A young girl performs a gymnastics routine for athletes and spectators. Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Azerbaijan
In a joint project with UNICEF, Special Olympics Azerbaijan is creating new sports opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities in the Goychay and Ganja regions. Approximately 400 athletes (male and female) have participated in football and volleyball. Some of the competitions were Unified Sports® and involved about 160 youths from mainstream schools as partners. All of the project events were held at national Olympic sports centers. The project, which ran through 2011, had its final events in Goychay 9-11 November and in Ganja 21-23 November with approximately 400 athletes and partners participating. UNICEF Azerbaijan Representative Mark Hereward was on hand to present medals to the teams in Goychay. Special Olympics Azerbaijan aims to replicate the project model in other regions in the future. Click here to see photos.
In Azerbaijan the relationship with UNICEF started in late 2009. As a lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games, Special Olympics Azerbaijan received a grant through International Inspiration of which UNICEF is a partner along with UK Sport and the British Council. International Inspiration uses the power of sport to enrich the lives of millions of children and young people of all abilities in communities across the world, particularly in developing countries. As part of the International Inspiration grant, Special Olympics Azerbaijan held seminars in football and volleyball, which was a new sport for the Special Olympics National Program.