Each year, MLS teams across the League work with their local Special Olympics chapters to host Unified Soccer games with other teams throughout the season. Unified Soccer pairs students with disabilities with neuro-typical students within their school.
The goal for this MLS WORKS initiative is for two clubs to commit to a home-and-away series of games throughout the season. In May, Sporting Kansas City and Special Olympics Kansas hosted the Colorado Rapids and Special Olympics Colorado in a Unified Soccer Match in Kansas City. This past weekend, the Kansas team traveled to Colorado for the second game in the series.
Upon arrival to Denver on Friday evening – the first airplane ride for several of the athletes – the two teams met for dinner at a downtown pizza restaurant, where the coaches and athletes were able to interact and talk about the upcoming match. On Saturday morning, the Kansas team took advantage of the beautiful scenery in the area and spent the morning at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park where many of the students caught their first glimpse of the Colorado Rockies.
After a quick lunch, the team headed back to the hotel for some much-needed rest before making their way to Dick’s Sporting Good Park. Both teams watched the first half of the Sporting Kansas City versus Colorado Rapids match in the stands. During halftime, the two teams were introduced to the supporters in an on-field presentation before making their way to a team locker room set up to mirror what a professional athlete would experience.
When game time arrived, the two teams -- in full team kits -- took the field and played their hearts out in front of a large group of Sporting KC supporters who waved flags, banged drums and sang songs that are generally reserved for the professional team. At the conclusion of the game, each athlete received a medal and trophy to honor their participation in the event.