15/04/2024

Oliver Walker-Peel will be doing Audio Descriptive Commentary for select games at the FIFA Women's World Cup. (Photo Credit: Oliver Walker Peel; Graphic Design: Theo Dimou)

At the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a rising talent in Australian commentary will get to step behind the microphone and do Audio Descriptive Commentary for several games.

Having moved to Australia in 2013, there are a number of ways Oliver Walker-Peel could mark a decade living down under.

None of them will be bigger than getting to do commentary on the Women’s World Cup, as Walker-Peel has been selected as a member of the audio descriptive commentary team for the tournament.

He described his reaction to finding out as “pure absolute elation.”

“I’ve never been a footballer in my life. I’ve never played sport or anything like that,” Walker-Peel said.

“But you see all those videos don’t you of when players get called up for a World Cup squad? And there’s like, just pure absolute elation, and it was like that for me.

“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”

He received an email informing him of his acceptance at about 10:30 pm the day he found out, and he said he genuinely had no idea what to do for over an hour before deciding to go for a walk at midnight to calm himself down.

He recognises just how much of an opportunity it is, but he also recognises that it’s not just about him.

FIFA describes the audio descriptive commentary (ADC) as providing blind and partially sighted fans with a detailed account of what is happening in the stadium, including where the ball is on the pitch, players’ facial expressions, and what is happening in the stands.

“To have the opportunity and the chance to open the game up for so many more people who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance, that’s the main thing for me,” Walker-Peel said.

“Commentating to that audience is something I’m really looking forward to.

“I just can’t wait for it.”

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Ahead of the World Cup, Walker-Peel has gone through a formal training process with FIFA on how to do ADC, but his first full game doing it will be his opening game for the tournament.

“It’s going to be different, [as] you’ve got to be a lot more descriptive, you know, audio-descript commentary, I think it says it on the tin really,” he said.

“You’ve got to tell people what’s going on because the majority of your audience can’t see the full extent of what’s going on because they might have little vision or no vision at all.

“So you’ve got to tell the story for them.”

One of the games the proud Blackburn Rovers fan has been assigned is England vs China

“I’ve said before if I ever called Blackburn/Burnley, I’d be unbiased, so it’s going to be a completely unbiased call,” he said.

“But to call the Lionesses is going to be exceptional.

“There’s a list of incredible commentators who have commentated England at a World Cup, and… I’m getting a bit emotional talking about it to be fair.

“I remember watching the semi-final in 2019 for the Lionesses when they got knocked out of the last World Cup in a hotel room in Melbourne somewhere. And four years later, I’m going to be commentating the Lionesses at a World Cup.”

Walker-Peel primarily does NPL Victoria and VFL commentary in his home state but will be moving around the country for the World Cup, doing games in Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide.

His commentary journey started with Mornington Soccer Club in 2019, calling the side’s home games for RPP FM.

With the 2020 season getting wiped out due to COVID-19, he came back for the 2021 season, and with the son of Michael Zappone playing at Mornington that season, Walker-Peel reached out and asked about the potential of some work with Football Victoria.

“From a football point of view, everything’s happened from there,” he said.

“I’ve done a couple of years in the NPL’s, doing Men’s, Women’s, NPL2, NPL3, and then did a little bit of work in the A-League with SEN, which was incredible at the start of this year.

“It’s been a lot of fun, and if I’m allowed to say it myself, it’s been a really quick rise from the fourth tier of Victorian football to a Women’s World Cup in four years.”

Walker-Peel, who has cerebral palsy, also got to commentate for the Australian Pararoos game against the United States in 2022, and he described the experience as “insane.”

“It’s hard to rank achievements because each achievement [is different],” he said.

“Commentating for SEN meant a lot because obviously I listened to SEN throughout my childhood and to work for them was awesome.

“But it was so special [getting to call the Pararoos].

“To be flown up to Sydney by Football Australia, to commentate for Channel 10, to meet most of the Pararoos for the first time was great.

“Having CP, obviously it’s a physical disability for me, but it’s been a mental battle as well, and I wouldn’t change that part of me for the world.

“The opportunity to call the Pararoos with an all CP commentary team as well, me, Matt Hearne, and Chris Pyne, it was incredible.”

The Audio Descriptive Commentary will be available to listen to through the FIFA Interpreting App, which is downloadable on the App Store and Google Play, and enter the code ADCFWWC2023 when prompted in the app. 40 of the 64 games will have the service.

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