Special Olympics athletes will play alongside NFL stars, football legends and Olympians at World Games

Special Olympics athletes will have the chance to show off their sporting skills alongside a number of NFL players, football legends and Olympians at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 as part of a series of Unified Sports Experiences.

The Unified Sports Experiences, which began on 13 March with former figure skater Michelle Kwan competing in golf, will continue until 20 March, featuring a series of exciting activations and clinics.

NFL stars Jamaal Charles, now retired, and Joe Haden through his foundation, 1 Strong All Great, will also be sharing their expertise thanks to a partnership with the Emirates American Football League. Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback, Haden and former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Charles will be leading an American football clinic on 16 and 17 March from 9am – 12pm at Zayed Sports City.

Taking to the football pitch are Brazilian World Cup winners Romario and Cafu as well as former Chelsea and Marseille striker Didier Drogba. Ex-Ivory Coast captain Drogba will be interacting with the Special Olympic athletes on Friday 15 March during a clinic and will be joined by fellow legends Cafu and Romario every day at Zayed Sports City from 17-20 March.

Photos: AFP

Olympic gold medallist and one of the most decorated female Olympians in the world, Allyson Felix, will also lead a sprint clinic as part of the experiences. This will be Felix’s second visit to the UAE after she took on Kobe Bryant’s challenge to coach Special Olympics athletes back in November 2017.

Special Olympics athletes will also have the opportunity to participate in two football clinics with Manchester City Football Academy. Students from New York University Abu Dhabi will be lending their skills and will help run the Unified Sports Experiences and help coach participating teams.

The Unified Sports Experiences will take place across the Games’ venues and on a dedicated Play and Live Unified Zone at Zayed Sports City. While most of the experiences will see honoured guests, VIPs and sponsors participating, the public can help create a vibrant atmosphere by cheering on the athletes. The experiences aim to promote inclusion and break down barriers by bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities and allowing them to play on teams alongside each other.

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