In recognition of National AccessAbility Week in Canada, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are proud to announce the upcoming launch of the 2021 Play Unified Challenge, a joint initiative with Special Olympics Quebec and Special Olympics BC.
The virtual friendly competition will run from September 7 to October 31 and consist of bi-weekly soccer and fitness challenges. The results from each challenge will be recorded and the team that has won the most challenges will be crowned champions. More details about the program will be released closer to September.
Each of the 11 athletes from the Special Olympics BC team will partner with Whitecaps FC BMO Academy and Girls Elite REX players. They will square off against 11 athletes from the Special Olympics Quebec team, who will partner with players from the CF Montreal Academy.
The initiative between the professional clubs and Special Olympics chapters aligns with the MLS WORKS cornerstone of Soccer For All, which advocates for an environment of diversity and inclusion through leveraging the power of sport.
"The ‘Caps are really excited to partner with CF Montreal and Special Olympics,” said Jennifer Scott, director of Diversity, Inclusion and Community. “The initiative aligns with our own club’s pillars of building community through sport and fostering diverse and inclusive spaces and practices.”
“We’ve been working in partnership with Special Olympics Quebec for over 20 years,” said Véronique Fortin, director of Community Relations at CF Montreal. “This project allows us to continue to offer these unique and inclusive experiences to our athletes and our unified players despite the pandemic. This year, we are very excited to take on a new opponent, Vancouver Whitecaps FC.”
Special Olympics Quebec and BC are Chapters of Special Olympics, an international organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through the transformative power and joy of sport. More than 45,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by over 21,000 volunteers including over 12,000 trained coaches.
“Special Olympics BC is thrilled to team up with our friends from Whitecaps FC, CF Montréal and Olympiques Spéciaux Québec to create this inclusive and empowering experience,” said Lois McNary, vice president of Special Olympics BC, Sport.
“This is an important opportunity for our athletes to build their skills, showcase their abilities, and strengthen friendships with their MLS teammates. And we know the competition will be fierce! We’re grateful to these two MLS clubs who are long-standing champions of inclusion and respect for athletes with intellectual disabilities.”