Our Athletes

Team Player on the Field—And Off

Michel playing football on the right and in his mechanics shirt on the left.

Michel needed a job to support his mother and younger siblings, but he had yet to develop the social and adaptive skills that are so necessary in the workplace. Among other things, he had to adapt to working and communicating with a variety of people.

During the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, Michel learned a lot—about communication, partnership, friendship and teamwork. He was goalkeeper and a crucial part of Team Senegal’s silver-medal winning unified football (soccer) team.

But transferring those skills to the workplace wasn’t easy—at first. Michel’s dream was to become an auto mechanic, so he was thrilled to be hired at a busy garage. He had natural mechanical abilities, but needed to adapt to a fast-paced environment. It was difficult. “He did not talk to employees!,” says a co-worker. “He used to wear earphones all the time and isolate himself.”

With patience and determination, his efforts paid off. The discipline he learned through team sports also helped.

Today, his managers praise him as a valuable employee. “He does his job with professionalism and real seriousness!,” reports his supervisor. Says another: “He is full of joy, laughter and has no problem with people or pressure in his work. Everybody loves him.”

Thanks to his persistence and skills, Michel is showing everyone how inclusion works, as this brief glimpse shows.

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