For the first time, Jamaica will send three unified teams to the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi as part of the ongoing partnership between the Digicel Foundation and Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) to support the country’s athletes on the world stage.
The teams will be part of a 98-athlete contingent representing the country from March 14 to 21, 2019. The concept of a unified team is a fast-growing initiative that brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team to compete against other teams. It is designed to enable athletes to learn new sports, refine their athletic skills, work more closely as a team, form new friendships, and participate in activities outside of traditional Special Olympics events.
In embracing the concept, executive director of the SOJ, Lorna Bell, explained: “This upcoming experience will offer a unique training and competitive experience for the athletes, and, on top of training hard, we expect them to do even better because of the motivational boost that the unified concept brings to the team.”
ONLY CARIBBEAN COUNTRY
Bell also disclosed that Jamaica will be the only Caribbean country to participate in the upcoming unified football competition to be held in Chicago in July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.
“As a friend of the special-needs community, we are once again very proud to help prepare another contingent of athletes to take on the rest of the world. This partnership has been going since 2004, and we have no doubt that they will once again represent our country and themselves well,” said Jean Lowrie-Chin, chairman of the Digicel Foundation.
The 2019 Special Olympics will feature seven days of competition in 24 sporting activities, including badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, athletics, cycling, kayaking, open-water swimming, roller skating, sailing and triathlon.