CF Montréal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Special Olympics Quebec, and Special Olympics BC teamed up for the 2021 Play Unified Challenge!
Eleven Special Olympics BC athletes paired up with players from the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System, including five boys from the MLS Academy and six girls from the Super REX program in partnership with BC Soccer.
Competition ran from September 7 to October 31. Participants completed new soccer and fitness challenges every other week.
Meet the Special Olympics BC & Whitecaps FC Academy teammates!
Glen McIntyre, SOBC – Kelowna
A Special Olympics athlete for 20 years, Glen has successfully competed at Provincial, National, and World Games. This highly dedicated athlete is passionate about soccer.
Andrea Kraetzer, WFC Academy
Andrea Kraetzer joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX Program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2019 after previously playing with Thompson Okanagan FC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Nicholas Sekella, SOBC – Kelowna
Nicholas has been a committed and hardworking Special Olympics athlete for eight years. He loves soccer and has competed in Special Olympics Provincial and National Games.
Alessandro Comita, WFC Academy
A midfielder from Kamloops, BC who joined the Whitecaps FC Academy in January 2019 after previously playing with Thompson Okanagan FC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League, and with the Whitecaps FC BMO Kamloops Academy Centre.
Devon Marsland-Anderson, SOBC – Coquitlam
Known as an outstanding teammate, Devon has been an active Special Olympics athlete for 8 years with successes in many sports, including soccer. Devon has competed in many soccer tournaments, and in two Special Olympics BC Games for athletics and basketball.
Olivia Ahern, WFC Academy
Olivia Ahern joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Super REX Program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2017 after previously playing with Mountain United FC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Kyle McLaughlin, SOBC – Coquitlam
Kyle has been a Special Olympics athlete for 25 years and has played soccer throughout. A positive and enthusiastic multi-sport athlete, Kyle has competed in many Provincial and National Games, and medalled in snowshoeing at the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.
Max Comsia, WFC Academy
A forward from North Vancouver, BC who joined the Whitecaps FC Academy in August 2019 after previously playing with Mountain United FC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Amy Nelson, SOBC – Coquitlam
In her decade as a Special Olympics athlete, Amy has successfully competed in many soccer tournaments. This positive and dedicated athlete has also competed in two Special Olympics BC Games for swimming.
Isabella Lister, WFC Academy
Isabella Lister a goalkeeper from Victoria, BC who joined the Whitecaps FC Girl Elite Super REX program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2018 after previously playing with Vancouver Island Wave in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Amanda Manzardo, SOBC – Coquitlam
Amanda has been a dedicated multi-sport Special Olympics athlete for 20 years, and has played soccer for most of that time. She has medalled in soccer at Special Olympics Canada and World Games, and is a veteran of many provincial and regional tournaments.
Shae Taylor, WFC Academy
Shae Taylor joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX Program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2019 after previously playing with Thompson Okanagan FC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Kayla Polege, SOBC – Surrey
A dedicated team player and a well-rounded athlete, Kayla has been in Special Olympics for eight years and has participated in many soccer tournaments, qualifiers, and training camps. Kayla has also competed in multiple provincial events for basketball and figure skating.
Megin Turi, WFC Academy
Megin Turi joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Super REX program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2017 after previously playing with Surrey United SC in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Malcolm Borsoi, SOBC – Surrey
Known for his outstanding athletic abilities, dedication, and team spirit, Malcolm is a World Games medallist in athletics and a veteran of many soccer competitions in his seven years as a Special Olympics athlete.
Eric Kim, WFC Academy
A defender from Calgary, Alberta who joined Whitecaps FC Academy in August 2018 after previously playing for Calgary Foothills FC.
Christopher Lakusta, SOBC – Langley
A multi-sport athlete with experience in many competitions, Christopher has been a Special Olympics athlete for seven years and a soccer player for six.
Niko Myronuik, WFC Academy
A midfielder/forward from Calgary, Alberta who joined the Whitecaps FC Academy in August 2020 after previously being a part of the Whitecaps FC BMO Alberta Academy Centre in partnership with the Alberta Soccer Association and Calgary Minor Soccer Association, and playing with Calgary Blizzard.
Jerman Severeid, SOBC – Quesnel
In his 14 years as a Special Olympics athlete, Jerman has competed in two Provincial Games for soccer, and is a longtime stalwart in his local program. He is known for his dedication and commitment.
Ava Wright, WFC Academy
Ava Wright a defender from Coldstream, BC who joined Whitecaps FC Girl Elite REX Program in partnership with BC Soccer in August 2018 after previously playing with Thompson Okanagan in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League.
Matthew Hender, SOBC – Quesnel
In his four years as a Special Olympics athlete, Matthew has become known for his commitment and dedication and has excelled in multiple sports including soccer. Matthew is also an inspiring athlete leader and advocate for the health of people with intellectual disabilities.
Abe Jones, WFC Academy
A forward from Edmonton, Alberta who joined the Whitecaps FC Academy in 2020 after previously playing with FC Edmonton Academy.
The CF Montreal Whitecaps FC Special Olympics Play Unified Challenge 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.”