Flagship European Football Week event kicks off in Tilburg, the Netherlands

Football fields all across Europe are coming alive with activity this summer, as women and girls with and without intellectual disabilities claim their rightful place on the pitch. As part of this effort, from 24 to 26 May, the first-ever Special Olympics International football tournament hosted in Tilburg, the Netherlands, will take place.
Female football/soccer player kicks the ball towards two male players on a football pitch.

At SVG Tilburg, more than 150 players from twelve different European countries – ranging from Poland to Monaco and Azerbaijan to the Netherlands – are going to play against each other in what is a highly-anticipated, flagship event of European Football Week (EFW) and the recently launched ‘Keep Up With the Girls’ campaign.

Tilburg meets European Football Week

Supported by UEFA Respect, national football federations and professional football clubs, EFW is a highlight in the Special Olympic calendar. European Football Week began back in 2000 and has since grown from 15 to 50 participating countries.

This year’s edition of European Football Week aims to increase women’s participation in the beautiful game across Europe Eurasia. Running alongside EFW is the ‘Keep Up With the Girls’ campaign, a brand new Erasmus+ supported project aimed at getting women and girls with and without intellectual disabilities involved in football. The 8-a-side football tournament in Tilburg brings women and men from all corners of Europe together to show their skills on the pitch!

The theme of increasing women’s involvement in football fits perfectly into Special Olympics’ overall goal of driving the agenda to increase women’s participation in all sports. It also builds on the momentum created by the record-breaking number of female athletes to have participated in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and is perfectly timed with the FIFA Women’s World Cup return to Europe in a few weeks’ time.

Flames, fun and football

In line with Special Olympics tradition, the Flame of Hope is also set to make its journey to Tilburg. It has become a globally-recognized symbol for inclusion and serves as a beacon of diversity and courage, lighting the way forward as we shape the future of women’s sport.

The Flame of Hope is going to be lit during the Opening Ceremony on 24 May, which will also be attended by Dutch Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag. UEFA ambassador, Célia Šašić, former Germany international, will meanwhile be present at the Closing Ceremony – highlighting the long-standing partnership between Special Olympics and UEFA and the importance of this international football tournament.

The tournament in Tilburg takes place from the 24 May to 26 May 2019 as part of European Football Week. All news content will be available on the Special Olympics website, with all digital content being published on the Special Olympics’ Europe Eurasia social media platforms.