In Canada's National AccessAbility Week, CF Montreal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Special Olympics Quebec, and Special Olympics BC are proud to announce we are teaming up for the 2021 Play Unified Challenge.
The virtual friendly competition will run from September 7 to October 31 and consist of bi-weekly soccer and fitness challenges. The results from each challenge will be recorded and the team that has won the most challenges will be crowned champions.
In the coming months, we will announce more details about the program, including the participant selection process.
Each of the 11 athletes from Special Olympics BC will partner with Whitecaps FC BMO Academy and Girls Elite REX players. They will square off against 11 athletes from Special Olympics Quebec, who will partner with players from the CF Montreal Academy.
The initiative between the professional clubs and Special Olympics chapters aligns with the MLS WORKS cornerstone of Soccer For All, which advocates for an environment of diversity and inclusion through leveraging the power of sport.
"The ‘Caps are really excited to partner with CF Montreal and Special Olympics,” said Jennifer Scott, director of Diversity, Inclusion and Community. “The initiative aligns with our own club’s pillars of building community through sport and fostering diverse and inclusive spaces and practices.”
“We’ve been working in partnership with Special Olympics Quebec for over 20 years,” said Véronique Fortin, director of Community Relations at CF Montreal. “This project allows us to continue to offer these unique and inclusive experiences to our athletes and our unified players despite the pandemic. This year, we are very excited to take on a new opponent, Vancouver Whitecaps FC.”
Special Olympics Quebec and BC are Chapters of Special Olympics, an international organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through the transformative power and joy of sport. More than 45,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by over 21,000 volunteers including over 12,000 trained coaches.
“Special Olympics BC is thrilled to team up with our friends from Whitecaps FC, CF Montréal and Olympiques Spéciaux Québec to create this inclusive and empowering experience,” said Lois McNary, SOBC Vice President, Sport.
“This is an important opportunity for our athletes to build their skills, showcase their abilities, and strengthen friendships with their MLS teammates. And we know the competition will be fierce! We’re grateful to these two MLS clubs who are long-standing champions of inclusion and respect for athletes with intellectual disabilities.”
Pictured on the graphic above is Special Olympics BC – Abbotsford athlete Bradly Barnett, who teamed up with Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency player Jonas Hakkinen to play in the 2017 Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star soccer match. Read more