A Special Olympics unified football team from Sutton, in the English county of Surrey came together with a Kick It Out team from London to play a unified demonstration match at the UEFA Champions Festival last Friday.
The two multi-cultural teams played a symbolic match to highlight how different exclusions can come together as one, to show solidarity and an inclusive face to the world.
The Kick It Out team represented the Fare network and the fight against discrimination, the Unified Special Olympics side to focus on the way in which football can be a powerful means of inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities.
Despite the pouring rain the players were able to demonstrate their skills and passion for the game to an enthusiastic crowd.
Graham an athlete with Special Olympics Great Britain excelled in the penalty shoot out and said, “It was brilliant, it was fantastic playing here just a few days before a Champions League final”.
Organizer Jason Cornwall of Special Olympics GB underlined the need to highlight social causes,
“Every year Special Olympics does something similar at a Champions Festival, for us this game was particularly important in London because it shows the necessity of demonstrating what can be done through football to tackle exclusion and improve the lives of those with intellectual disabilities and in turn, the lives of everyone they touch.”
The match was one highlight of the Special Olympics Annual European Football Week (16-26 May) conducted in 50 countries across Europe for over 50,000 participants.