The South East Asia Unified Football tournament on 1-2 September welcomes teams from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team and is inspired by a simple principle - training together and playing together as a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Goal.com Singapore spoke to Team Singapura coach, Gareth Chan, on his hopes for the team and what it means for the players to be participating in this tournament in the national colours.
“Every team’s objective is definitely to win the competition," said Chan.
"A year ago when we played in the Special Olympics World Summer games in Greece, the team won a Gold medal. So now, as it’s the regional games, a gold medal target is also possible.
“As this is a unified games, I find it extremely meaningful as we have mainstream players playing alongside the special athletes. This game can create a platform to bridge the two groups together and break any barriers that exist between them.
“Sports or football can be used as a tool to break down any barriers that exist among these two groups. Without such a tournament, many of us would not know or even understand each other well. That is the beauty of this tournament.
“I speak on behalf of my special athletes players and I can say that they are not only proud to represent Singapore but they are also trying to create a new legacy at this tournament continuing from where we left off from Greece.”
Team Singapura player, Pravin Raj, echoed his coach's sentiments and feels that preparations for the tournament has given him a whole new experience.
“People always segregate the special athletes and the mainstream players but with this tournament, we are all given an opportunity to break down barriers and play football together and I certainly learn a lot from them too," added Pravin.
“When I first met them, I did not really know in what way they are ‘special’, as I did not see anything that separated them from us (mainstream players). Whenever I train or play with them, I see them as normal as me, and they are all excellent players. I certainly learnt a thing or two from them as well.”
DATE: 1 – 2 September 2012
VENUE: Academy of Singapore Teachers, 2 Malan Road, Singapore 109433
(Free Admission for all)
Saturday, 1 September
08:40-11:00 Opening Ceremony and VIP Unified Football Challenge
(Featuring Singapore Parliament Football Team and Special Olympics Athletes)
11:15-12:00 Competition Rounds
14:00-16:00 Competition Rounds (continued)
Sunday, 2 September
09:00-12:00 Competition Round
15:00-15:45 Unified VIP Game
16:00 Closing Ceremony and Awards Presentation