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Coleman backs campaign to support Special Olympics athletes

Seamus Coleman speaks to Carlo Ancelotti as Everton return to training

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia has launched #FacesofFootball, a unique digital activity hub and campaign to encourage footballers with intellectual disabilities to stay active and engaged in the face of evolving of Covid-19 restrictions.

Unprecedented engagement from athletes across Europe has resulted in almost 1,000 participants from over 40 nations already signed up and in training – including Special Olympics GB!

Today, marks the first day of Special Olympics European Football Week 2020 #EFW2020.

Now in its 20th year, European Football Week is usually celebrated in May. Every year, 40,000 participants across 50 countries take part in hundreds of events. However, as with everything else this year, European Football Week 2020 is far from usual.

This year, it has gone online in the form of #FacesofFootball, a pioneering new digital hub for footballers with and without intellectual disabilities across Europe, their coaches and supporters.

The campaign has caught the attention Everton and Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman who has thrown his weight behind it.

He said:

“Faces of Football gives football players with and without intellectual disabilities across Europe the opportunity to come together, train and compete in the game they love without ever leaving their own home or garden.

“Everyone is welcome and everyone is included. Even though we’re not physically together on the pitch or in the stadium, to me, this is the perfect example of the inclusive power of sport.”

The sense of isolation experienced by many as countries went into lockdown earlier this year is nothing new to those with intellectual disabilities.

Marginalisation and exclusion are common experiences that many live with on a daily basis. However, Covid-19 and the accompanying restrictions exacerbated these feelings and brought with them worrying new challenges for Special Olympics athletes – many living in already vulnerable situations.

The new #FacesofFootball campaign is meeting these challenges head on and uses digital technology to empower athletes to keep training, competing and, most importantly, connected with fellow players, coaches and supporters no matter what restrictions are in place.

  • Anyone can sign up, generated a unique Football Card and support by clicking here

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