The finals of the Special Olympics Five (5) A-Side Play Unified Football Competition took place this morning with four of the competition’s finalists having a crack at the Grand Final.
Earlier in the year, 10 teams started off the tournament as part of a first of its kind concept by Special Olympics PNG to create awareness among young people to recognise, socialise and play together with intellectual Disabilities and know that they can have fun together.
Since May, special education services such Cheshire , Callan, Red Cross Special School, Gabagaba SO– as well as able-bodied institutions like Hohola, Hohola Demonstration and Wardstrip Primary School, have all participated.
With members of the PNG Special Olympics on board, president Takale Tuna, a former PNG athlete said, he wanted sportsmen and women as well as coaches, volunteers and young people to be aware of people with disabilities in their settings, and talk to them instead of ignoring them and including them in their conversations and in their sports activities.
He said Special Olympics PNG is also using the competition to also promote an important message, “Making hand washing a habit”.
Also available were members of the PNG Netball team, with captain, Lua Rikis, more than happy to deliver that message as well. A special guest at the tournament was Linda Babao-O’Niell, wife of the PNG Prime Minister.
While a lot of focus has been on the able-bodied sporting heroes of the country, the PNG Special Olympics is hoping for a more inclusive approach for its wards, and are pushing for more awareness on the issues surrounding people with special and intellectual disabilities.