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Celtic FC Signs Up

March 16, 2013

One of the world's greatest football clubs has become the latest Team Ambassador for Special Olympics.


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Celtic FC Manager Neil Lennon (centre) flanked by two Special Olympics athletes John McGowan and Wesley Young

Celtic Joins Our Team

Celtic Park: Glasgow Celtic Football Club and Special Olympics are delighted to announce that Celtic FC has become Scotland’s first Team Ambassador for the global Special Olympics Movement.  The announcement was celebrated at Celtic Park during the 7 goal thriller match against Aberdeen on March 16th. Celtic legend Packie Bonner and athletes from Special Olympics Great Britain joined Neil Lennon and his players for a day of excitement at Cetic Park.

Celtic Manager Neil Lennon said. “The Club is delighted to cement this new relationship with Special Olympics, to become the first Team Ambassador in Scotland. It is a great privilege for the Club to be able to use our worldwide appeal to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to play football. Special Olympics is an extraordinary organisation and we are proud to support Special Olympics’ athletes to reveal their true potential.”

As Team Ambassador, Celtic FC will involve its supporters, coaches and partners to promote inclusion and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. As an official grassroots soccer provider Celtic FC players and coaches will host top level training clinics for Special Olympics athletes in Scotland and beyond.

Karen Wallin, Chief Executive of Special Olympics Great Britain, said: “We are thrilled to announce this relationship with one of the biggest football clubs in World football.  Our partnership with Celtic FC will help to significantly raise the profile of the work of Special Olympics and our athletes. Celtic has a proud history in hosting Opening Ceremonies of both the 2005 Special Olympics National Games and the 1990 Special Olympics European Games.  On both occasions the ground was packed to capacity and Glaswegians have fond memories of one the best events ever staged in the city.” 

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Packie Bonner (right) with Special Olympics athlete Darren McCluskey (centre) and Celtic FC goalkeeper Fraser Forster

Celtic Legend

Packie Bonner, Celtic legend and long standing friend of Special Olympics says, “For me today is a very special occasion and I was there in 1990. Celtic and Special Olympics are both very close to my heart so to see Celtic take on a bigger role globally with Special Olympics is fantastic. There are millions of people with intellectual disabilities around the world and they are often a forgotten group. We all saw how attitudes changed towards athletes with disabilities last summer in London. This partnership will create opportunities for Special Olympics athletes and transform the way communities and groups think and act with regard to intellectual disabilities.”

Special Olympics Scotland West is one of the largest groups in the country supporting many of the clubs within Glasgow and the region. At the 2011 World Games in Athens, Scotland made up 48% of team Great Britain and this year more than 700 Scots will compete at the National Games in Bath in August. The fundraising and training has already begun.

“Special Olympics Global Football initiative aims to create a network of Ambassador Teams which brings the football community together to promote inclusion and raise public awareness of the Special Olympics year-round programme ,” concluded Trevor O’Rourke, Special Olympics Global Football Director.

Existing Team Ambassadors for Special Olympics include Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan, Corinthians in Brazil and Seattle Sounders FC from Major League Soccer (MLS). 

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Special Olympics athletes form a guard of honour on the pitch at Celtic Park in front of a packed stadium ahead of the thrilling match against Aberdeen which finished 4:3 to the home side.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organisation that changes lives through the power of sport by empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 4 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programmes. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at Engage with us on: Twitter@specialolympics; Facebook; YouTube, and


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Special Olympics Great Britain athletes line out pitchside at Celtic Park March 16th to a rapturous applause from the fans for Celtic vs Aberdeen 

About SOGB

Special Olympics Great Britain has brought grassroots sports training and competition to the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities offering life-changing ways to improve their quality of life, travel, make friends and compete. Over 2,800 volunteers help to transform the lives of our athletes, bringing the thrill of competing in 26 sports to 8000 athletes in 150 clubs across England, Scotland and Wales. Proud parents watch as their children compete and win medals or ribbons at local, regional and national competitions with many continuing on to represent the country at Special Olympics international and World Games. In Great Britain there are an estimated 1.2 million people with intellectual disabilities and an additional 200 babies will be born this week. They will face discrimination all their life. Taking part in regular sports activities gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to get fit and gives them a sense of belonging and inclusion. Visit for more information on Special Olympics Great Britain.


Celtic legend Packie Bonner (left) Celtic FC goalie Fraser Forster and Trevor O'Rourke Global Football Director Special Olympics

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