Next month in Dubai, Special Olympics in the Middle East and North Africa region will be organising the Unified Sports Football Cup Qualifier that will bring together Special Olympics athletes (people with intellectual disabilities) and Unified Partners (people without intellectual disabilities) to play as team-mates.
Teams representing 10 countries in the region will be competing for a spot in the 2014 Unified Sports Football Cup in Brazil in the qualifying tournament set to take place at the Dubai Club for Special Sports in Al Qusais between May 10 and 15.
Teams will get to compete at the same stadia that will be used for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil including the iconic Maracana Stadium.
The 2014 Unified Sports Football Cup is part of the Special Olympics’ Global Football initiative which was launched in 2008 and is aimed to utilise the power of football to help transform attitudes about intellectual disability.
Half a million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a fun and exciting way.
Dedicated to promoting social inclusion, Unified Sports brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities. It was inspired by a simple principle: Training and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
The 10 countries competing in Dubai next month include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan, with two qualifying spots up for grabs
. The tournament is sanctioned by FIFA, who previously joined forces with Special Olympics Inc to hold a similar event during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli, chairman of Special Olympics UAE, believes the UAE team has an excellent chance of grabbing one of the two qualifying spots.
He said: “It is a unique event that can allow us to qualify for Brazil and our team has been preparing hard for the past year to do well in this tournament.
“The UAE team has had a lot of success in the past, having won the silver medal at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in 2011 and bronze at the Regional Games in Syria in 2011.”
If you wish to know more about Unified Sports and show your support, head out to the Dubai Club for Special Sports. You can also join the large group of volunteers who work with Special Olympics and help the UAE programme develop more athletes.
WHAT: Middle East & North Africa Unified Sports Football Cup Qualifiers
WHERE: Dubai Club for Special Sports, Al Qusais
WHEN: May 10-15, 2013
CONTACT: Log on to www.specialolympics.org or check with Special Olympics UAE at +97165561222.