They may be World Cup rivals on the pitch but that was kicked to touch as friendship proved a stronger bond at the Special Olympics as the England team hosted Brazilian footballers with intellectual disabilities.
The Football Association and Special Olympics Great Britain, with the support of the Premier League, gave 10 Brazilian footballers with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to join the England team for their training session only days before England’s World Cup opening game against Italy. The session took place at England’s training base in Rio de Janeiro.
Ana Paula Soares, National Director for Special Olympics Brazil said: “When I told our ten players they would be meeting the England World Cup squad in Rio they quite literally couldn’t sleep. This amazing experience was all thanks to our friends at Special Olympics Great Britain who were supported by the Premier League and the English FA. It was a truly memorable day for the athletes.”
Chris Hull, Special Olympics GB said: “The Premier League kindly gave us the chance to reach out to our colleagues in Brazil and organise this great opportunity on the ground with the England team for athletes with learning disabilities. Almost 1.2 million people in the UK, or 2% of the population, have an intellectual disability. Special Olympics GB is a registered charity and receives no central funding, so support like this from the Premier League is essential to allow us continue our work for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I want to thank Adrian Bevington, Joanne Budd and Maria de Leon at The FA for their kindness in facilitating this opportunity for Special Olympics athletes.”