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February 01, 2013 |

Small Team, Big Hearts

By Karyn Tan

Team Afghanistan is playing in its second World Winter Games, in Floor Hockey. The team is made up of players ranged 10 to 17 years old, beginner and seasoned players. Despite regular training, what holds Special Olympics Afghanistan back is public perception. Coach Hashmi Jawed explains that people don't understand why they are helping the intellectually disabled, they don’t understand the needs of this community. “Even the families of intellectually disabled children. They don’t know what kind of programs Special Olympics has. We are explaining to each family, to each hospital, to each supporter, what is Special Olympics and how we are helping their children gain respect in society.” The team also met Tim Shriver for the first time and were thrilled at the opportunity. “He’s a legend and hero for us,” enthuses Coach Hashmi. “His mother had the vision to create a program for those outside of society.” As the team gathered around Tim for a picture, Coach Hasni called him the “hero of Special Olympics.” To that, Tim replied: “No, you guys are the heroes; you are competing in the game.”

About Karyn Tan: I'm the Communications Manager for Asia Pacific, cheering on the athletes at the World Winter Games.

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