Special Olympics GC Unified team utilise facilities to prepare for World Summer Games

Tuesday 30 May 2023
Howard Wilkinson and Stuart Pearce joined the Unified Football Team at St. George's Park
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The Great Britain Special Olympics Unified football team were able to call St. George’s Park home, as the side utilised the site’s world-class facilities to prepare for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The team is comprised of six athletes that have intellectual disabilities, and five athletes without intellectual disabilities and are known as Unified Partners. The Unified football team is part of Unified Sports, a Special Olympics programme designed with one core principle: to promote social inclusion by breaking down barriers and building friendships.

“The selection process for the team was completed in February,” explained Ben Mathews, Programme Development Manager at Special Olympics Great Britain.

“We partnered with the University of Hertfordshire to select five Unified Partners to join the team, which will compete in the men’s unified football competition at the World Summer Games, which get underway on 17 June.”

Through a partnership between the League Manager’s Association and Special Olympics GB, the team was provided with an opportunity to stay in Staffordshire for a few days to not only train like professionals, but benefit from insight delivered from coaches at the top of their game.

“We’re very appreciative of the LMA’s generous support, which has enabled the team to have this training camp hosted at St. George’s Park. Through the partnership, we were lucky enough to have Gareth Southgate, Steve Clarke, Howard Wilkinson, Stuart Pearce and Tim Foster join us for parts of our stay.”

The team will play a minimum of five games, with the ultimate aim of bringing home the gold medal. To enable the team to prepare to meet that goal, players and coaches were able to use the playing, recovery and hospitality facilities on offer at the home of England’s teams. Training on the David Beckham pitch, utilising the hydrotherapy centre and performance gym; the team were also able to enjoy the comfort of the on-site Hilton Hotel, inclusive of the private dining area.

“All the facilities were incredible,” said Ben. “The team very much enjoyed the hydrotherapy centre, and were able to live like professional footballers for a few days.

“The entire team had a fantastic experience and have not stopped talking about it since we left. All the staff were incredible welcoming and treated our team like the stars they are. We couldn’t have asked for more.”

All at St. George’s Park wish the Unified football team the best of luck in the World Summer Games.

For more about Special Olympics Great Britain, please visit www.specialolympicsgb.org.uk 


By FA Staff