Thailand in white vs Malaysia in red/black. Women's Unified Football Match.
The Thailand Women’s Unified Football team demonstrated amazing sportsmanship and compassion at the first ever Southeast Asia Unified Football Tournament held September 2012 in Singapore. The half-time score against the newly formed Malaysia Women’s team was something like 12-nil in favor of Thailand.
The Thai coach must have spoken to his team during the break, because when the athletes and Unified partners came back on the pitch, they were in teaching mode. At the tip-off the Thai team helped the Malay players get into position. They guided them in passing the ball and at one point, even helped an errant Malaysia player change direction when she was aiming for the wrong goal.
These young women from Thailand, who in other tournament matches were the toughest competitors on the pitch, even held back on scoring. When they did get the ball, the Unified partners were careful to pass to the Special Olympics athletes for the final push to the goal and the shot. And, what was even more incredible is that the Special Olympics athletes held back on shooting to let the Malaysia goalie get into position to block the shot!
Final score was 14-nil in favor of Thailand, but this was definitely a win for Malaysia – with a boost in skills and self confidence. And, massive kudos to Thailand’s coach for instilling sportsmanship and compassion in his team.
About Paige Okun: I am the former Director of Communications and Development at Special Olympics Asia Pacific. I have been involved in the movement for two years.