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[Event] Special Olympics South East Asia Unified Football Tournament

Football transcends barriers of nationality, race, creed, gender, age, social status and in the case of Special Olympics intellectual disability. Karyn Tan of Special Olympics explains what football means to its athletes, and introduces its latest event “Special Olympics South East Asia Unified Football Tournament

The tournament poster
The hallmarks of a great football match are simply ability and talent. With Special Olympics, “there is no difference in abilities,” says Anjar Guritno, a 20 year old student and football enthusiast.

Anjar will prove that ability on 1 September, playing in the South East Asia Unified Football Tournament, organized by Special Olympics. The nonprofit organization gives people with intellectual disabilities a platform to showcase their sporting talents.

During the two-day Unified Football Tournament, seven male and three female teams with players 12 to 23 years old, from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, will compete in the five-a-side tournament.

In Unified Sports Special Olympics athletes and players without intellectual disability, known as Unified Partners, train together and play together on the same team. It’s mutually beneficial. Athletes learn teamwork and sportsmanship, while Unified Partners like Anja gain a better understanding of their peers with intellectual disabilities. Above all, both parties have a great time on the pitch.

The Special Olympics Singapore Soccer team winning gold last year in Athens
As with other sports in Special Olympics, these football boys and girls are supported by a dedicated coaching team made up of volunteers. Apart from dispensing tips and strategies, these coaches are mentors who guide their athletes by encouraging them and knowing their needs.

Explains Indonesian Coach Rangga Goenadi, “It helps to understand each athlete’s character and for me to find the right pattern and combination for them to accept and apply my teachings. I treat these athletes with the same respect I would to anyone else and help them find the best in their game. What’s most important is not winning, but the opportunities they get with football.”
 Captain Suhaili Bin Sa'al at the Special Olympics World Summer Games last year in Athens.
Special Olympics Singapore is sending two male teams and one female team to compete in the tournament. The two male teams will include members of the Gold Medal team from the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. The boys in red beat Indonesia and Belize to meet Chile in the finals, besting them 3-2 in a penalty shootout. They almost didn’t make it - In the semi final match against Belize, when their opponents matched them at 2-2, the Singapore boys rallied back with a last minute goal to win the match.

Singapore Coach Gabriel Tan sums up the Special Olympics experience: “No one said it was easy but at the end of the day, when an athlete can stand proud on the field of play knowing they have given their all, that's courage and excellence at its best.”

Event Information
DATE: 1 – 2 September 2012
VENUE: Academy of Singapore Teachers, 2 Malan Road, Singapore 109433
(Free Admission for all)

Day 1 - 1 September
8:30-11 am
Opening Ceremony and VIP Unified Football Match
(Featuring Singapore Parliament Football Team and Special Olympics Athletes)

11am - 12 noon
Competition Rounds
2 - 4 pm
Competition Rounds Continued

Day 2 - 2 September
9 am - 1 pm
Competition Rounds

2:00 - 2:45 pm

4 pm
Closing Ceremony and Awards Presentation

Visit the event page for more details:

(P.S: This is a feature article contributed by Special Olympics with images depicted being provided by the article contributor)


  1. I am really glad to see more and more tournaments from regions like Asian in which soccer has not been developed like in other countries, but they have the talent and discipline to do it


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