The first Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia Cross-Border Unified Football Seminar was hosted by Special Olympics Luxembourg July 6-8 in the “Coque”- the National Sports Training Centre. 18 participants from across Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany gathered for two days to exchange and discuss common ideas, challenges and future plans for Unified Football in their countries. The seminar was lead by Andre Peeters, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Football Sports Advisor and Sabine Menke, Director of Youth, Unified Sports and Research with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia. The three attending Special Olympics Programs have different levels of experience and participation with Unified Sports and Unified Football which made the exchange very dynamic as different perspectives could be shared. The participants had diverse backgrounds ensuring the seminar was enriching and interesting: coaches, unified Sports players, volunteers, representatives from Special Olympics programs, school sport authorities, football associations and professional clubs who are partnering with Special Olympics attended along with parents of Special Olympics athletes and others.
The seminar was part of the 2012 UEFA Unified Football Cross-Border Project. Neighboring countries in Europe have similar seminars planned for this year in “cluster type” groups. The Scandinavian countries will have a similar seminar in late 2012.
As well as the discussion sessions and presentations an afternoon was spent in a practical session with athletes and partners from local Luxembourg clubs. Three 7-a-side Unified Football teams were formed involving the seminar participants and they enjoyed a small tournament.
One of the key outcomes of the seminar was that the three programs started to plan a cross-border-challenges which will be a league type competition series with teams from the neighboring regions for 2013.
A participant from Belgium stated at the end of the seminar: “This seminar was hugely important and worthwhile. I learnt a significant amount in terms of Unified Sports and Unified Football and that the possibilities are endless for Special Olympics athletes and partners."
Sincere thanks and congratulations to Special Olympics Luxembourg for kindly hosting this important and successful seminar.
This seminar was made possible with the kind support of UEFA.