Special Olympics Bharat’s Unified Cup-bound athletes play all-inclusive exhibition match

Members of the Special Olympics Bharat. Photo: Twitter @SOlympicsBharat

New Delhi – Special Olympics Bharat’s National Coaching Camp – Unified Football came to an end after eight days of preparation. The preparatory camp was organized to prepare and train the Unified female football squad for the upcoming Unified Cup 2022, which will be held later this year in Detroit, Michigan.

On the camp’s closing day June 20, 2022, the SO Bharat Athletes, Unified Partners, students of Maitreyi College, Delhi University and a team from The Lalit Hotel, which comprised employees with special needs and members of the LGBTQ community, competed in an all-inclusive 7-a-side football match to celebrate Pride Month.

Speaking about the All-inclusive exhibition match, Mallika Nadda, Chairperson, SO Bharat said, “The All-Inclusive match marked the closing of the National Coaching Camp. Accepting differences is an attitude that we are promoting through sports. What unfolded today, demonstrated the willingness of people to do so when exposed to differences.”

“Inclusion is at the heart of all our endeavours at The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group,” remarked Keshav Suri, Executive Director at the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, while speaking about the event.

“We celebrate ‘Pride’ every day and take initiatives to embrace, empower and mainstream the communities at various intersections via various projects and initiatives throughout the year. We are delighted to be the Happiness Partner for Unified Training Camp for Special Olympics Bharat athletes and this initiative of an All-Inclusive match was to bring together the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities to express solidarity towards each other and to also ensure equal opportunity for all,” he added.

The SO Bharat athletes and Unified Partners were also ecstatic as they spoke about the training camp and how important it was for them ahead of their all-important visit to the United States for Unified Cup 2022.

“Today was amazing, playing alongside all these players, LGBTQI+ community members, it was surreal. We also won the game, so, it was extra special. We are all very excited about our trip to the USA and hopefully, we are returning home with a gold,” said Nikita, a SO Bharat Unified partner from Maharashtra.

The principal of Maitreyi College, Haritma Chopra, was beaming with excitement as the event came to close, saying that, “If this isn’t inclusivity, I don’t know what is.”

“I believe this is all we need, more events like this, because no one could tell them apart when they were playing together or dancing together as the event concluded. They were all simply happy; they were all just children, and that is all that matters. And this is how we build an inclusive society that welcomes everyone. And believe me when I say this is only the beginning,” she further added.

The Special Olympics Unified Cup 2022 will be held in July in Detroit. The event will feature over 300 players with and without intellectual disabilities from over 20 countries. The 2022 Detroit event will be the second-ever tournament in this single-sport series. The first edition of the tournament was held in 2018 in Chicago.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here