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K League Unified Cup: Championship for people with disabilities

10:55 PM IST 21/11/21
K League Unified Cup 2021
No boundaries exist for physical disability in playing football together...

The 2021 Special Olympics K League Unified Cup football tournament was held at Changnyeong Sports Park, Gyeongnam Province, on November 13 and 14. This was the 11 vs 11 football match, including six disabled players paired with five other players on a team, and they are given the opportunity to play for 30 minutes in each half, each game.

For the tournament co-organized by the K League and Special Olympics Korea (SOK), athletes from the following eight K-League teams - Gangwon FC, Incheon United, Seoul E-Land FC, Suwon FC, Daejeon Hana Citizen FC , Gyeongnam FC, Busan IPark FC and Jeju United FC, joined forces to create a joint team to participate in the competition.

The final winner will be invited to the K League 1 Awards. and the All-Star Charity Game to be held in December with the selected players with the most outstanding performances at the Unified K League Cup.

Clubs from the K League create teams that are integrated with the local SOK football team. 25 Players registered in total, including 10 disabled players, ten regular players and five coaching staff. The coaching staff are all from K League clubs.

Integrated Sports is one of the main goals of the Special Olympics and is also part of a global social movement. Regardless of disability, all athletes build trust and mutual understanding by helping each other and exercising together. More than 2 million athletes participate in this global social movement.

The K League also works to raise social awareness for disabilities through football, and helps people with disabilities to be accepted in society at large. The aim is to develop a community where persons with disabilities and non-disabled individuals are integrated together.

It's been a few years since the K League showed interest and started working on a unified sport. In 2017, Incheon hosted a friendly match between the Everton FC Disability team invited from England, and the SOK team as part of an integrated sports exchange programme. Also in 2018, two integrated football matches were held after the match between Suwon and Incheon was over. In addition, Seoul E-Land provided official soccer uniforms for SOK teams in 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the K League will continue to develop plans with all participating K League clubs to fulfill social responsibilities. This will include continuous efforts to communicate with more people through football, and contribution to the development of local communities.