Liverpool’s club ethos and motto is that no one ever walks alone. Holding true to form, the club sent a delegation of coaches and legends to meet with members of Special Olympics Ireland for a training session in Dublin. Part of the club’s preseason tour, this was no doubt a treat for the athletes and coaches from the Irish contingent.
On hand from Liverpool Football Club were club legends Ian Rush and Jason McAteer, as well as coaches from the set up. The aim was to be able to meet delegates from 6 of the Special Olympics Ireland programs and run through training sessions as well as to provide a chance for them to meet their sporting heroes.
Here’s a short clip from the training:
Earlier today, #LFC community coaches joined forces with @SOIreland in Dublin to deliver a series of skill sessions...with the help of @Ian_Rush9 and @MCATEER4.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 3, 2018
Thirty-four athletes from six different clubs took part in the session donated by @Joie_Baby... pic.twitter.com/Soot5I5bed
You may be familiar with recurring coverage here at TLO around other community efforts - namely, the Red Neighbour program - and this one has a very unique place in my heart. One of the first things I did in my career was to coach members of a local Special Olympics program in soccer. It was a mainstreaming program known as Unified Sports wherein coaches like myself would play on the pitch alongside athletes we’d coached, allowing for a higher level of game play and a more intimate opportunity to express skills we’d been working on off of it. It also helps to close the gap between those with special needs and those of us on mainstream society.
It is an experience that was deeply rewarding for me and gave me the entry point to my first career in recreation and has played a pivotal role in how I view various underrepresented members of our community. I can tell you that in instances like this, wherein our athletes might meet sporting figures from the highest levels of sport at competition meet-and-greets, the value to the participants is immeasurable. Meeting their analogs on the same playing field, seeing them make mistakes, and affirming them in their technique always lasts in their memories.
It was a wonderful treat, then, to see these photos from their training session on the official site and be brought back to those fulfilling days with amazing souls.
If you are interested in getting involved with your local program, you can follow the link here to the Special Olympics International website and they can link you with the local programs and offices around the globe to get you started. It’s a fun and truly fulfilling way to serve your community while participating in and facilitating the growth of something we all love: sport.