It is the dream of many children to grow up and be a professional athlete. Some get the chance to live out their dream but many don't. The Special Olympics organization gives athletes facing intellectual disabilities the same opportunities in sports that their peers have. One way in which the organization does this is through Unified Sports.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is a program that brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and their peers without intellectual disabilities (called partners) on the same team for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.
On Sunday, a Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas and a Unified Team from Special Olympics Colorado will play each other in an exchange game at Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Rd., Kansas City, Missouri). MLS WORKS, the league’s Community Relations arm, started this new initiative in 2013 and has many MLS teams participating around the league. Each exchange game features Unified Teams from the local Special Olympics chapters.
Each team will exchange gifts and good luck cards, which is a Special Olympics tradition to encourage good sportsmanship. They will also get a full pre-game ritual of warm-ups on the field, lineup announcements and a national anthem, also reflecting a professional atmosphere. Once the game has ended, the players will each receive a commemorative medal during an on-field ceremony.
Last year, the Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas (a Sporting Club Network member) traveled to New York to play an exchange game vs Special Olympics New Jersey at Red Bull Arena. They arrived a day early and had a couple of surprises in store, including a baseball game in Yankee Stadium to watch the Kansas City Royals take on the New York Yankees. This year both the Unified Teams were out at The K on Friday night to watch the Royals take on the Yankees again.
Sporting Kansas City will host the Colorado Rapids Saturday evening at Sporting Park. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT on 38 the Spot and SKCTV across the Midwest. Fans in Kansas City can also listen to the match on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340.
Ahead of Saturday's match, Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes joined Nate Bukaty on The Border Patrol. Vermes talked about the Rapids, the growth of Erik Palmer-Brown and how he prepares his team for three games in eight days.
In the afternoon, Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber, the reigning MLS Player of the Month, joined Kevin Kietzman and Todd Leabo on Between the Lines. Feilhaber discussed Sporting KC's season to-date, his progression over the past two years in Kansas City and dealing with heavy travel as a professional athlete.
When Sporting Kansas City hosts the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, users of Sporting Club Uphoria will have the opporunity to win a special prize at the conclusion of the match.
The club's official mobile application will hold an auction for a Sporting Kansas City soccer ball signed by the team's players, and anyone who uses the Uphoria app is eligible to enter.
To participate in the auction, select the "Tix City Seat Options" tab in the left navigation menu and enter your bid. The auction will open at 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday and close 40 minutes into the match—approximately 8:15 p.m. CT. Bids will start at $75 with $5 minimum bidding increments. The winning bidder will receive a phone call in the second half and pick up their signed soccer ball at the DJ Booth in the Boulevard Member's Club after the game.
In addition to participating in the auction, Uphoria users will have access to live stats, exclusive video content, Sporting Park seat upgrades and chances to win free prizes throughout Saturday's match.
Whether you're in attendance at the stadium or in the comfort of your own home, Uphoria is your comprehensive mobile companion for every game this season. Download the app now on the App Store or Google Play.
Sporting Kansas City debuted the new third kits on May 3 in front of the 58th straight MLS sellout at Sporting Park.
Four days earlier, Sporting KC debuted the new reflective kits with the above promotional video. That video has been nominated for a People's Telly award which recognizes the finest in film and video productions, groundbreaking web commercials, videos and films, and outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs.
Voting for the awards is conducted through a rating system. Each video that is nominated can be rated 1-5. The video with the highest average rating wins the award. Voting runs through June 5.
Click here to submit your rating and cast your vote!
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza -- who contributed the game-tying assist on Dom Dwyer's goal in last weekend's 1-1 draw at D.C. United -- was a guest on The Sporting KC Show last night with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Listen to the full podcast embedded below for their thoughts on the road result and the club's form heading into an important stretch on the schedule with four of the next five games at home...
Now 27 (in jersey number and age), Espinoza moved to Denver from his native Honduras as a 12-year-old and will play a key role as Sporting Kansas City hosts the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Sporting Park. The 2010/2014 World Cup veteran and former MLS All-Star has earned Team of the Week recognitions on three occasions this season since returning from England, where he won the 2013 FA Cup with Wigan Athletic two years ago this week.
We sat down with Sporting KC defender Jalil Anibaba to get to know him a little better off the field. Check it out:
Jamila St. Ann: What is your post game routine after a win?
Jalil Anibaba: After a win I grab a bite to eat, chill for a little bit and then probably do something with the guys on the team.
JS: What’s your most commonly played song lately?
JA: Hmm, maybe…One Man Can Change the World by Big Sean.
JS: What video games do you play?
JA: FIFA, nothing else really.
JS: Are you any good?
JA: I hold my own. I’m not as good as Seth (Sinovic). I’ve heard Seth is amazing. And Soni Mustivar is good.
JS: Who’s the worst FIFA player on the team?
JA: Servando probably. Servando is terrible at FIFA!
JS: Any celebrity crushes?
JA: Eva Mendes!
JS: You’re crowned King for a day. What is your first royal rule?
JA: Hmm…everyone gets a day off from work with unlimitedly charged iPhones.
JS: Tell us an embarrassing story.
JA: When I was under eight years old, so about six or seven, we were playing in the city championship game. My dad was the coach and we were playing our rival team and I really had to pee…
JA: Yes! Like really, really had to pee. And I’m a little kid, I can’t deal with it. And my dad is intense, like Peter (Vermes) times five. So he’s yelling at us to do this and do that and I’m like, “Daddy, daddy! I have to pee! Sub me out!” And he’s like, “No just go!” So, I just peed on the field. No one knew what I was doing. So I squatted, took a pee and we ended up winning the game so I guess it was worth it!
JS: What’s one meal you would eat for the rest of your life?
JA: There’s a lot I’d pick. Maybe general tso chicken and fried rice? Not the healthiest for you obviously, but it’s the truth.
JS: What type of animal would you be and why?
JA: A cheetah just because it’s always been my favorite animal since I was a kid.
JS: What type of animal would Peter Vermes be?
JA: I don’t know, a tiger or something. Definitely something fierce.
JS: You’re stuck on a deserted island with the team. Who lives the longest? Why?
JA: Me of course. Because I’d like to think I’d survive.
JS: Who dies first? Why?
JA: Benny (Feilhaber) dies first because we all kill him because he’s talking way too much.
JS: Finally, what’s the last lie you told?
JA: Probably that I would survive longest on the team if we were stuck on a deserted island. But seriously, I jokingly told Benny I wanted to room with him in LA and that’s definitely a lie!
Sporting Kansas City midfielder and MLS Player of the Month (April) Benny Feilhaber leads the League for most assists in 2015 with five. His top-notch perfomances on the field may have been spurred by his newest good luck charm, 10-month old daughter Sofia Feilhaber. Crystle Lampitt from 38 the Spot sits down with Feilhaber in this week's Sporting Spotlight to chat about the adjustment to fatherhood and a potential return of The Benny Feilhaber Show. Catch the full interview below:
Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer scores his third goal of the season in the 45th minute, assisted by midfielder Roger Espinoza, to make it 1-1 against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
On Monday, the Boulevard Members Club was transformed into a fully functioning dental clinic. Tooth decay is the most common chronic illness facing children and for the second year, The Victory Project partnered with TeamSmile to provide uninsured children in our area access to free dental care and education. With the help of over 100 volunteers -- including local dentists, dental assistants, hygienists and 3rd/4th-year students from the UMKC School of Dentistry -- nearly 230 kids received care.
TeamSmile, an organization with its roots in Kansas City, provides everything from x-ray’s to dental procedures, including teeth pulling and fillings. Each child's visit is completed with a cleaning and education on the importance of good dental hygiene. The students attending Monday's event also got the chance to meet World Cup veteran Graham Zusi and former KC defender Nick Garcia, who acted as a distraction leading up to the time when they began their examinations.
This week's edition of The Sporting KC Show aired last night on Sports Radio 810 WHB with goalkeeper Tim Melia joining hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine inside Jazz, A Lousiana Kitchen. Listen to the podcast below as the trio discussed Melia's club debut in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday and the team's upcoming match at D.C. United on Saturday (6 p.m. CT on 38 The Spot and SKCTV).
Melia is one of five finalists for Major League Soccer's Save of the Week. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. PT tonight on MLSsoccer.com.