“Special Olympics and The Ball together have the power to break down the many barriers and divisions that the world faces. This journey to the World Cup will create understanding and friendships through sport, something that Special Olympics accomplishes daily, throughout the world.”
— Dr. John Dow, Managing Director, Special Olympics.
The Ball is teaming up with Special Olympics which has programmes in over 30 African countries. Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities through sport, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Special Olympics Global Football is supported by football greats such as Osvaldo (Ossie) Ardiles, Gerard Houllier, Teofilo Cubillas, Kaka, David James, Doris Fitschen and Christine Lilly. In Africa, Special Olympics is a partner in FIFA’s Football For Hope movement, and in Europe a 10–year partner with UEFA’s We Care program.
The partnership will help to create awareness of the many challenges people with intellectual disabilities in Africa face and will spread the message of acceptance and inclusion and foster unity through participation in joint activities. The Ball will visit Special Olympics Africa (SOA) projects; meet their athletes, coaches and supporters; play many games of Unified Football; participate in 14 SOA festivals; and help SOA to break down negative stereotypes concerning the intellectually disabled. Our partner Alive & Kicking will deliver their durable and repairable balls to SOA programs throughout Africa.
The Ball supports the concept of Unified Sport™, which combines SOA athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities on football teams for training and competition against other unified teams. When all participants are actively included and accepted on the team, a positive and rewarding experience is guaranteed for everyone and negative stereotypes are diminished.