UEFA's partnership with Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) to promote programmes for footballers with intellectual disabilities features a football match on Monday.
As part of the ninth Special Olympics Football Week from 25 April to 3 May, a unified football match involving Special Olympics and UEFA staff players will take place at Colovray Stadium, opposite UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland (kick-off 16.00CET).
Programme of events
Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is the world's largest year-round programme of sports training and competitions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. UEFA has been giving significant backing to Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia for several years. Around 2.25 million athletes in more than 160 countries train and take part in 30 Olympic-style summer and winter sports at local, national and international events. Through its sports programmes, Special Olympics strives to provide long-term benefits to individuals' health, self-esteem and social integration.
An estimated 50,000 players with intellectual disabilities are expected to participate in football events in 45 countries in the Special Olympics Football Week throughout Europe/Eurasia. This year, the focus will be on bringing young people with and without intellectual disabilities together to build awareness and tolerance on and off the playing field, mainly through unified football.
On the same team
Unified football puts players with and without disabilities on the same teams for training and competition. Activities will include football tournaments on local, regional and national levels, clinics, seminars, press conferences and promotional events. Football associations and professional clubs are expected to support the community-based initiatives. In addition to unified football, there will be an emphasis on volunteer coach recruitment and training.
"The Special Olympics European Football Week has become one of the largest promotions for our movement. By dedicating the week to Unified Football, we will introduce the theme of inclusion of young people in communities to a broader audience across Europe," said Mary Davis, managing director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia. "Football is an effective means to instil the values of acceptance, dignity, skill and inclusion to communities all over the Europe, especially with the continued support of the European football governing body, UEFA."
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