Strengthening Unified Sports in Russia

A team of unified Russian football players
A Unified Football team lines up for a photo after completion of their game

Shuya, Russia—Special Olympics Russia hosted an All-Russian Youth Football and Unified Football Tournament with more than 100 participants representing six regions of the Russian Federation—Ivanovo, Leningrad, Kostroma, Ryazan, Vologda, and Vladimir. For three days, participants with and without intellectual disabilities played together for victory, all while demonstrating courage and will.

The opening ceremony was held in the ancient city of Shuya at the Spartak Stadium. The event was attended by State Duma Member, honorary president of Special Olympics Russia, Yuri Smirnov and CEO of Special Olympics Russia, Egor Lebedev.

Welcoming the participants and guests of the tournament, Yuri Smirnov emphasized that this tournament is an important step towards strengthening the position of Unified Sports in the Ivanovo Region, and the rest of Russia.

“Today we are giving a start of another tournament, which will undoubtedly become not only a sport event, but also a real holiday. Regardless of the results of the game, each of the participants will receive a large charge of positive emotions, demonstrate the desire to win and please the fans with a beautiful game. I wish a good luck to all of the teams. May your efforts and love of sport lead you to success," said Yuri Smirnov.

Mr. Smirnov highlighted that Unified Sports tournaments help people with and without intellectual disabilities strengthen their health, improve their physical fitness and ultimately positively affect how they learn.

The Ivanovo region is one of several regions in Russia that launched the “Play Unified. Learn Unified” project, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The “Play Unified. Learn Unified” project is support the expansion of Unified Schools in 14 countries around the world.

At the end of the tournament, an educational seminar devoted to the promotion and integration of an inclusive program in schools was held. Representatives of educational institutions and student volunteers of the Ivanovo Region received the opportunity to learn more about Unified Sports in schools, discuss thought-provoking issues and find plans for further development of the movement in the Region.