With a Colorful Ceremony the First Central American and the Caribbean Unified Football Tournament of Special Olympics Gets Started

San Jose, Costa Rica May 9th -- A true celebration marked the launch of the First Central American and the Caribbean Unified Football Tournament of Special Olympics.

"An Opportunity to Shout Out From Costa Rica"

The night was magnificent, with colors and joy and was attended by the Minister of Sports, William Corrales, Dennis Brueggemann, President and Regional Director of Special Olympics Latin America and Carlos Valverde, President of Special Olympics Costa Rica among other important personalities from Government, Costa Rican soccer officials and Football Ambassadors.   The ceremony took place at the stadium Cuty Monge, starting with the official event song performed by Los Agenos and called “It´s part of your life”, followed by a parade of the delegations from Paraguay, USA, Mexico, Guatemala , Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica.   

The President of Special Olympics Costa Rica, Carlos Valverde, during his speech gave an important message to all present, "We saw an opportunity to shout out from Costa Rica and to the world the ability of our Special Olympics athletes; today in football, yesterday and tomorrow in all sports. In the relentless struggle to achieve a full integration of people with disabilities in our societies "   On the other hand, Dennis Bruggemann, President and Regional Director of Special Olympics Latin America emphasized the importance of football to the organization and to develop this tournament under the concept of Special Olympics Unified Sports "Tonight we celebrate the" school of life "- football - which gives us a unique way to promote values of tolerance, justice and dignity for both people withintellectual disabilities and for all of us. Athletes and unified partners here today, by being members of the same team, you are creating lasting friendships and helping to bring people from all walks of life in a community of equality and tolerance "   

Sports Minister of Costa Rica, William Corrales, welcomed the presence of the visiting delegations "Here is the football with passion, here is the football of integration, here is the football that sparks passions."

One of the most emotional moments were thewords of Ariel Ary, athlete and Special Olympics Global Messenger who reminded the audience that "during this international tournament, we will see that young people with and without intellectual disabilities, will enhance theirlives with a life experience and will be able to share values, norms and passions in a unified way"

Contact Information

Contact Claudia Echeverry, Director, Marketing & Communications for Special Olympics in Latin America, cecheverry@specialolympics.org

The Torch Arrives

As part of the art show, a ballet of people with disabilities performed a folkloric dance of Costa Rica, from the original act of the Minister of Culture of Costa Rica; Manuel Obregon who delighted the audience with a symphony played on piano called "Nostalgia in Pampa" and a mask show called "Alzando Vuelo" was presented, where each mask represented the countries participating in this tournament.   

The Olympic torch was offered by the General Director of Costa Rica´s Police; Colonel Juan José Andrade who accompanied by an athlete from Special Olympics Costa Rica let the cauldron to give inaugurated the tournament. The famous ex - players Teofilo Cubillas-Peru, Enrique Borja - Mexico and Alex Aguinaga-Ecuador, gave luster to the opening day.   

Immediately after the opening ceremony, began the first match of the tournament between the delegations of Costa Rica and El Salvador that ended with the victory of the hosts 3-0 with goals scored by Gregory Tencio at the 25th minute, Michael Pizarro at the 54th minutes and Carlos Rojas at the 57th minute.   

Tomorrow's matches will be: Group A:Dominican Republic - Paraguay, Group B: Mexico - Panama, Group C: Honduras - Guatemala and Nicaragua - USA

About Special Olympics 

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promotingacceptance 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 more than 4 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing sports training, athletic competition and other related programs throughout the year. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, improve their physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy. Visit Special Olympics: www.specialolympics.org   Follow us on Twitter @ specialolympics; facebook.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq