Friends of Football supporting this special team
While New Zealand football’s finest players await their chance of World Cup glory against Peru, another group of players are keenly anticipating their own shot at sporting achievement.
A group of Auckland athletes with intellectual disabilities are ramping up their training regimes, as they prepare to compete at the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games.
Their pinnacle event will be held in Wellington from November 27 to December 1.
Friends of Football have thrown their support behind this special team.
On Sunday November 5, the Auckland Special Olympics squad were presented with new strip, match and training balls, and kit bags, provided by apparel company Kappa and sponsored by Friends of Football.
The presentation took place at half-time of Auckland City’s ISPS Handa Premiership match against Canterbury United at Kiwitea St, Sandringham.
Nine footballers from Special Olympics Auckland, and three team management, are set to take part in the Games.
Thomas, who is Chair of Friends of Football, said his members could feel proud of their support for a group of footballers who fully deserved the chance to enjoy the thrill of taking part at a national event.
“Friends of Football are pleased to be able to support the Special Olympics Auckland football team and wish them well at the National Summer Games”.
Thomas said he was grateful to Kappa’s Mark Elrick, another former All White, for recognising the importance of providing football uniforms that would lift players’ spirits.
Alice Black, the head coach of the Special Olympics Auckland Football Team, said: “The athletes and coaches very much appreciate the support of Friends of Football and the uniforms will look awesome.
“For the first time this millennium we will be bringing a football team to the National Summer Games, which we are very excited about.
“All of the athletes and volunteers are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to compete with and meet athletes, especially from other regions,” said Mike Ringrose, Chair for Special Olympics Auckland.
Held every four years, the Games is New Zealand’s largest event for people with intellectual disabilities and will see athletes of all ages compete in football, swimming, athletics, basketball, bocce, equestrian, golf, indoor bowls, powerlifting, and tenpin bowling.
Special Olympics Auckland athletes will compete in athletics, basketball, ten pin bowling, football, indoor bowls and swimming.
Special Olympics New Zealand is a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
More than 7,000 athletes throughout the country train and compete in 13 different Olympic-type summer and winter sports.
Special Olympics New Zealand also offers athletes leadership development through its Athlete Leadership Programme, health screening via Healthy Athletes®, and encourages social inclusion through Unified Sports®, where intellectually disabled athletes are combined in teams with unified partners (without intellectual disabilities).
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides athletes continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.
Special Olympics New Zealand – www.specialolympics.org.nz