Sunday,17 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)
Sunday,17 February, 2019
Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Bronze in unified football

Egypt’s Special Olympics women’s unified football team won the bronze medal in the first-ever Unified Football Cup which took place in Chicago to mark the 50th anniversary of the movement, reports Abeer Anwar


Egypt’s Special Olympics women’s unified football team

Egypt is one of over 170 countries taking part in the first ever Special Olympics Unified Cup which started last week in Chicago, in the US, representing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region together with the UAE’s men’s team.

The sporting fiesta, which features 24 teams comprising eight women and 16 men’s teams, with and without intellectual disabilities, dazzled the world in this first-ever Unified Football Cup.

Egyptian athletes won the bronze by beating South Korea in their opening match, overcoming India on the second day 3-0 and qualifying for the semi-final after smashing Mexico 5-1.

With the victories, SO Egypt topped Group B with nine points to meet the experienced Brazilians in the semis but with no rest after being forced to play the next day. They lost to Brazil 4-3 to win third place but Ikrami Al-Gamal, SO Egypt technical manager, expressed his satisfaction nevertheless. “I am very happy with our achievement. It is our first time to take part in an international event where we face teams that have been playing football for years. I thank all the players for their huge effort all through the tournament.”

Egypt’s Special Olympics women’s unified football team

Ex-minister Hani Mahmoud, head of SO Egypt, said, “I think what happened is a great achievement, to participate with a team and play among other talented teams from different countries. I think we have started and we have to build on this achievement and increase the number of athletes playing women’s soccer. Also, the idea of inclusion through unified teams is a fruitful one that made a well-built team able to play and help each other.”

Egypt qualified for the tournament after being crowned SO Female Unified MENA’s Regional Cup champions in December last year. Three Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and Egypt, vied for qualification. 

The SO Unified Cup is taking place for the first time as part of the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics celebrations. The tournament is held under the slogan “Inclusion Revolution - Play Unified - Live Unified”.


Special Olympics dates back to 1968, and is considered the world’s largest sports entity that prioritises athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Alongside the 50th year celebration, SO MENA Region President and Managing Director Ayman Abdel-Wahab was honored for being the only regional director who has served for 20 years, leading the MENA region from 2001-2020.

Abdel-Wahab was head of the MENA region in times of war and the Arab Spring revolutions. Despite those tense times he was able to reach out to 250 million athletes by the end of 2020.

MENA was also the only region that hosted nine regional games, the last of which was in Abu Dhabi last March. Abu Dhabi will also host the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the first in the MENA region. “I must say that I am very thankful that I was able to see all my dreams come true,” Abdel-Wahab said. “It has been a long road with Special Olympics during which I have learnt a lot and helped a lot. I had the golden opportunity of serving the mentally handicapped and tried to make the region reach out to other regions and work under severe political and humanitarian conditions but I am very happy that I was successful in doing so.”

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