Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Half-century mark

In celebration of its 50 years, Special Olympics will hold its first ever Unified Cup


Special Olympics
Special Olympics

Special Olympics, which has been bringing people together through the power of sport for half a century, is doing so again, reports Abeer Anwar.

A four-day competition starts from 17-20 July at Toyota Park in Chicago, Illinois. Unified teams, including players with and without intellectual disabilities, will compete alongside their local football national teams. Representing every region of the world, they will play in this inaugural global football invitational tournament to show the world that “when we play unified, we live unified”.

This Unified Cup will put a global spotlight on the skills and talents of Special Olympics athletes. The competition also showcases the unifying power of sport, all part of the five-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to 5.7 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.
A total of 24 teams — 16 male and eight female - represent Egypt, Bharat (India), Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Japan (Nippon), Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Slovakia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Uruguay.

The Special Olympics Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be represented in the Unified Cup by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt’s women’s unified team fell in the second group which includes India, Mexico and Korea. Egypt’s inaugural match will be against Korea on 18 July while the UAE’s men’s unified team will face Canada in Group 4 which includes Russia, Texas and Canada.

Ayman Abdel-Wahab, SO MENA president and regional director said he was very excited about the experience. “It is a great chance for our athletes to play in the first ever unified football cup and show the whole world that they can really entertain us and be part of our communities which is the best message of inclusion that really suits the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.”
“The Special Olympics movement is excited to showcase the talent of Special Olympics athletes and the unifying power of sport on the global stage,” CEO Mary Davis said on the Special Olympics website. “We unite on the playing field to show the world that playing and competing together breaks down barriers, regardless of ability, race, religion or background. Special Olympics is grateful to Toyota for their supporting our mission to promote inclusion through sport.”
ESPN will broadcast some of the final matches live on Friday 20 July on ESPN2 in the first-ever primetime broadcast of a Special Olympics competition.

The spark that became today’s Special Olympics movement ignited at the first 1968 International Summer Games in Chicago, Illinois, in the US. Five decades later, it is returning to Chicago to launch the year-long Special Olympics 50th anniversary celebrations. A number of events will take place along the Unified Cup. From 17 to 21 July, the inaugural Special Olympics Unified Football Cup competition will team people with and without intellectual disabilities from all over the world. On 20 July, the Special Olympics 50th anniversary Law Enforcement Torch Run Commemorative Run will include Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement officers from Illinois and elsewhere.

On 22 July, in Chicago and around the world, is a day for everyone to celebrate the history of Special Olympics and its bright future. Athletes from the first 1968 Games will be joined by today’s athletes to tell their stories of empowerment. Members of the public, Special Olympics families and others come together on the playing field for Unified Sports experiences. Change the Game Day will be a global festival of togetherness and sharing for all.

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