Special Olympics South Africa yesterday officially launched the #BackOurTeam campaign, a call to all South Africans to get behind the Special Olympics South Africa national team on the “Road to Abu Dhabi”.

A team of 70 determined and inspirational athletes will be looking for further support from South Africans with funds to help them reach their goal of representing South Africa on a global stage. The games will be held from the 14th-21st of March 2019, where 7 500 athletes from around the globe will compete in over 20 Olympic type sporting codes. Dr Mathews Phosa, Chairman of Special Olympics South Africa opened the proceedings and requested public support, “We are asking South Africa to get behind our national team. He continued, “Every day our athletes face prejudice, discrimination and a lack of belief in their abilities.

Coupled with limited access to sports facilities and equipment and perhaps the most heart-breaking of all, very little support or acknowledgement from our society. However, despite all of these obstacles our athletes remain committed and they persevere, oh my word do they persevere. South Africa lets Back Our Team this year.” The record number of participating athletes and Unified Partners, including the highest number of women to ever participate in a Special Olympics World Games, will compete across 11 venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while the build-up to the Games will be a nationwide celebration with the Law Enforcement Torch Run® and the Host Town program take place in all seven emirates of the UAE. The Games will act as a catalyst for inclusion, building a lasting legacy of improved health, education, and opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities long after the Closing Ceremony of the World Games.

Special Olympics South Africa CEO, Ancilla Smith shared the successes of the South African team at the last World Games and thanks all attendees for their continued support, “We are eternally grateful to businesses and initiatives who support us, one being the National Lotteries Commission who have generously backed our team with funds for flights. We hope to raise further funds for the team through the “Adopt an Athlete Campaign” and hope to bring home even more medals than ever before”.

Through the “Adopt an athlete campaign”, we are calling on companies and individuals to adopt an athlete for R35 000 to ensure our athletes have the opportunity to compete with pride and are well equipped amongst the 7500 athletes attending.

The Special Olympics team will depart from OR Tambo on the 7th of March 2019 and will be hoping to replicate the same success of the 2015 Special Olympics South Africa Summer games team who returned victorious with 61 medals in Los Angeles.

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