Malaysia to host first Special Olympics global football competition in November

TWENTY-FIVE teams that have qualified from across various regions of the world will congregate in Malaysia this November for the world’s first Special Olympics global football competition.

Special Olympics Malaysia (SOM) president Datuk Muhammad Feisol Hassan said state authorities had been invited to bid for the opportunity to host the group stages in their respective states while the finals will be held in Kuala Lumpur.

Responses from their engagement with the state authorities to host the group stages have been positive, he added.

Being labelled as a Unified Sport, a full squad of 17 players must consist of six intellectually disabled players playing alongside five non-disabled “partners” at any time during the 60-minute match.

Special Olympics Malaysia vice-president Peter Vellapan (left most), Khairy Jamaluddin (second from right) and National Sports Council director-general Zolkples Embong (right most) with the youths during the soft launch of the Special Olympics Unified Football World Cup 2014 at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Putrajaya
Peter Vellapan (left), Khairy (second from right) and Zolkples (right) are joined by youths during the soft launch of the competition.

Muhammad Feisol Hassan said the cost of hosting the event would come to about RM30mil in order to accommodate the visiting teams.

Also present at the launch was Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who was pleased Malaysia would be able to make its mark in the Special Olympics movement by hosting its inaugural football event.

He also hoped that the private sector would take the opportunity to step forward and support the competition as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Khairy commended Integrated College of Allied Health and Nursing (ICAN) for getting the ball rolling with a RM100,000 contribution.

ICAN chief executive and principal Kamariah Ali and director T. Ganesh presented a mock cheque to the organisers during the launch.

With a mission to shake away the stigma and stereotypes associated with intellectually disabled individuals, Muhammad Feisol Hassan said it was time the athletes and their parents were given the opportunity “to come out of the shadows and into the sunshine”.

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