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For Special Olympics Jamaica Unified Cup Athlete and Coach, Inclusion is More Than a Nice Word

Young man holding a sign and walking with a group of people.
Geovannie Britton from Special Olympics Jamaica walks in the Opening Ceremony parade of athletes.

Geovannie Britton, forward, was excited for Special Olympics Jamaica to play their first game of the tournament on 1 August 2022 against Special Olympics Paraguay. Nerves were not a problem for him. This is his first trip outside of Jamaica and his team started the week with stunning win. With all goals scored in a thrilling first half, Jamaica defeated Special Olympics Paraguay 4-0.

Britton joined Special Olympics 16 years ago but only started playing football (soccer) this year. “I wanted to try something new and exciting. Jamaica has a great football legacy.” Through Special Olympics, Britton learned life-lessons anyone can appreciate, “You should know you can do anything. Keep on trying and don’t give up. Just do your best. Just try.”

Geovannie and Coach Shane stand next to each other and smile at the camera.
Geovannie Britton and Coach Shane Richards before Special Olympics Jamaica’s match against Special Olympics Paraguay.

When Britton joined a webinar for the Special Olympics International staff leading up to the Unified Cup, Special Olympics Board Chairman Timothy Shriver found Britton’s words inspiring. “Everyone, all of us, can learn from Britton. We can always give it a try.”

It’s that positive attitude that Coach Shane Richards is proud to say is shared among the entire team. “Geovannie is a team player just like everyone else. It’s not about one person, it’s about everyone’s contributions.” Richard coached the Jamaica team to a second-place finish in the first-ever Unified Cup held in Chicago in 2018. “Of course, we want to do better than that. We want a win. But it’s not all about winning. It’s about teamwork, exposure and for some, traveling for the first time.”

Richards joined Special Olympics 19 years ago when he discovered that next to the school where he worked as head football coach, there was school for students with special needs. Even after all these years, he says his passion for the movement continues to grow.

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