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Ben McBride, Special Olympics UAE Football Coach, Regularly Welcomes Hundreds of Athletes to Virtual Training Sessions

Illustrations of Ben McBride.

The UAE refers to people with different abilities as People of Determination in recognition of their true potential and capabilities.

Ben McBride is a volunteer football (soccer) coach from Special Olympics UAE. Prior to joining Special Olympics UAE as a Coach, Ben organized various sports programs for athletes of determination* for over 15 years. With Special Olympics UAE, Ben says he has learnt that the power of football and sport should never be underestimated in an individual’s development. “We have observed amazing changes in the athletes with intellectual disabilities, through their love and participation in sport.” – says Ben McBride.

Ben McBride is a volunteer football (soccer) coach from Special Olympics UAE. Prior to joining Special Olympics UAE as a Coach, Ben organized various sports programs for athletes of determination* for over 15 years. With Special Olympics UAE, Ben says he has learnt that the power of football and sport should never be underestimated in an individual’s development. “We have observed amazing changes in the athletes with intellectual disabilities, through their love and participation in sport.” – says Ben McBride.

Ben held weekly football sessions with the athletes before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. Even with the athletes at home and physical training facilities’ operations on a pause, Ben was determined that his athletes continue training and preparing for competitions. Ben reached the parents and siblings of athletes via WhatsApp to ensure the families created an uplifting atmosphere for Special Olympics UAE athletes at home. Then he launched virtual trainings for the athletes. Ben’s resilience in continuing to train and participate in sports brought a sense of belonging to all the athletes in a challenging time. Ben is now popular for keeping athletes fit, engaged, and motivated. Due to his encouraging approach, many athletes prepare in advance, even for his virtual classes!

When recalling his favorite moment with the Special Olympics, Ben said, “To be honest, there is no one moment. We have had countless success stories from parents and athletes through our sessions. We have worked with the athletes to overcome their individual challenges and help them take part in structured football sessions. The lessons have brought together the parents, to form a community around the program, which is our biggest achievement.”

Ben believes the power of sport to be a fantastic tool to bring families together and through Ben’s effort, Special Olympics UAE athletes are propelled in the right direction even during the pandemic, away from isolation and towards an inclusive community, positivity, and inspiring, regular motivation.


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