Special Olympics

Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois Partner to Create Unified Sports Soccer Team

CHICAGO (Jan. 29, 2015) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois announced a partnership Thursday to create a Unified Sports soccer team. Unified Sports joins athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition exercises with the principle that training and playing together is the quickest path to friendship and understanding.  

“We’re excited to expand our partnership with Special Olympics Illinois and create a Unified Fire team,” said Chicago Fire Senior Director of Community Relations Jessica Yavitz. “This is a great opportunity to leverage the Fire’s reach in the Chicagoland community to raise awareness of the programming available to athletes with special needs while promoting respect, inclusion and acceptance of all people. We’re pleased to be able to offer these athletes a real ‘pro’ experience and are looking forward to the match against the Special Olympics Oregon team in August.”

Created with the goal of bringing people together, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams have more than half a million participants worldwide who work together break down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities.

Tryouts for the Special Olympics Illinois team will be held in the spring. In addition to receiving training and coaching instruction from Fire players and coaches, the team will be honored at Toyota Park prior to the Fire’s match against Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United on Wednesday, June 24.

“Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled to form this partnership with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” says Dave Breen, President & CEO of Special Olympics Illinois. “This is incredible opportunity for our athletes and Unified Partners to travel and meet competitors from other states. We are grateful to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club for their help in creating awareness for Unified Sports and in promoting social inclusion through sports training and competition experiences.”

The Special Olympics Illinois team will travel to take on the Special Olympics Oregon team in a Unified Sports soccer match in conjunction with the Fire first team’s match against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Friday, Aug. 7.

Additional information on the Special Olympics Unified Sports program can be found here.