Members of the Germany national team were on show in Berlin as the UEFA Champions Festival staged a Special Olympics match on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final.
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A Special Olympics match has taken place at the UEFA Champions Festival, sited at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
UEFA works hand-in-hand with social responsibility partner Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) towards developing participation of learning disabled players in football. The programme which began in 1988 counts significant achievements to date, including the expansion from 20,000 to 133,000 players.
On the eve of the UEFA Champions League final, two teams from Special Olympics Germany were at the UEFA Champions Festival to display their skills, their enthusiasm for the game, and for life in general.
Liane Klinghardt started playing when she was seven. Now 53, she talked about the occasion and her love of the game: "I am really happy to play here. What I like most about football is being part of a team and the team feeling. I train three times a week." Liane will represent Germany at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles in July.
Special Olympics is the world's biggest organisation for people with intellectual disabilities and aims to transform lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere.
"It's a great opportunity for us to show the people what Special Olympics is," said Steffa Michailowa, responsible for participation and sports projects at Special Olympics Deutschland. "It is remarkable that when we are at competitions, everyone is so happy, whether the Special Olympics players win the gold medal or finish last. They are always happy – to play football, to make friends and be together."
The UEFA Football and Social Responsibility programme promotes social integration amongst other issues, and aims to increase playing opportunities for footballers of all abilities at grassroots level across Europe. The UEFA Champions Festival will welcome three other 'Football for all' matches this year: blind football, amputee football and Street Football World.