SKF and Special Olympics France: A Powerful Partnership

A team in blue football kits gather together in front of the goals on a pitch with their hands in the air.

Through the power of football, a strong bond has developed between SKF and Special Olympics France athletes. This connection was on full display at the recent Gothia Special Olympics Trophy where two SKF representatives cheered, mentored and motivated the spirited French team throughout the tournament.

“From the Opening Ceremony to the Awards, this has been an amazing, unforgettable experience,” says Stephane Vaucher who, along with Loic Dufrennes, works for SKF—a leading global supplier of technology platforms, services and systems—in France. Together, they mentored 10 players on the Special Olympics France squad throughout their exciting journey to the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy in Gothenburg.

Two men in Special Olympics branded clothing stand facing the camera and smiling with their arms around each other.
Loic Dufrennes from SKF in France with Special Olympics France athlete Remy Copin. Loic was one of two mentors from SKF who accompanied the Special Olympics France team to the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy in Gothenburg, Sweden.

That journey began back in March at a national football tournament in Tours where Stephane and Loic were among the 20 pairs of SKF employees assigned to mentor a Special Olympics team. When their squad was selected to represent France in Gothenburg, there was no doubt that Stephane and Loic—and SFK—were 100 percent committed to supporting them all the way. Not only did SFK cover all expenses for the team—as the company has done foreightyears now—Stephane and Loic joined training sessions and were a key part of the delegation to Gothenburg. Margherita Pogatschnigg, Sports Director with Special Olympics France, says, “I honestly don’t know if it would be possible for us to participate in the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy without the support of SKF—both the financial contribution and the support that Stephane and Loic have given our coaches on the ground throughout the time here in Gothenburg.”

A group of boys in football kits carry a man in a white t-shirt and sun glasses. They are all smiling and some of the boys have their hands in the air.
Stephane Vaucher of SKF in France gets a joyful lift from the Special Olympics France team whom he mentored at the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy in Gothenburg, Sweden from 14 to 18 July 2019.

Watching Stephane and Loic energetically chant and cheer the team on from the sideline, it’s clear that they have been swept up in the spirit of Special Olympics. Loic says, “Our athletes feel every victory and every loss so intensely. It such a journey of extreme emotions!” On the final day of matches, the French team lost out to Indonesia for third place in their group, but that couldn’t stop Stephane and Loic leading them in a rousing rendition of the team’s signature chant: “Ermonte eut’ maronne”, roughly translated as “Cheer up and give everything you can!”