The first ever South East Asia (SEA) Unified Football Tournament kicked off on Saturday, September 1, 2012 with Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, gracing the opening ceremony at the Academy of Singapore Teachers.
The two-day event began with an exhibition match of Unified teams consisting of Members of Parliament, corporate partners and Special Olympics athletes competing together in a powerful demonstration of inclusive sports.
Madam Halimah said: “It is inspiring to see athletes with intellectual disabilities and able-bodied athletes play together. It shows the power of sports in making us a part of each other and not apart from each other."
"I hope sports can do the same for all Singaporeans and the other participants from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.”
The first day of competition saw the participants taking part in divisional rounds and practice games before proceeding to the finals of the next day.
The Women’s category was won by Thailand after they inflicted a 2-1 victory over Singapore on Sunday morning.
It was a jubilant scene over at the Men’s category as both teams from Singapore secured victory in their respective division finals.
Singapore 'B' defeated Malaysia 'Selangor' 5-2 while Singapore 'A' clinched victory in a nail biting game against Malaysia 'Perak' that went into extra-time after the score was goalless at the end of regulation time.
With the game seemingly approaching penalty shoot-out, Muhammad Aliff Haqiim scored the decisive goal two minutes before the end of extra-time.
Singapore ‘B’ coach, Hang Yuchi spoke to Goal.com Singapore after his team's victory: “It was not that easy to put everything together and finally the hard work paid off and we are glad that both the athletes and the partners had a good time in the tournament."
"It’s a good finale to all their perseverance throughout this journey.”
For Singapore ‘A’ coach Gareth Chan, he was proud of his players' achievement after their Gold medal at the Special Olympics World Summer Games last year.
“It is a wonderful feeling as Team Singapore has done us proud yet again after their gold medal at the Summer Games," said a beaming Chan.
"It was a close fight and nonetheless we put it together and overcame all obstacles. The players were beginning to feel lethargic as the game progressed but they did not give up and finally we did it.”