Special Olympics set for Bell/Zaidie match
This year, the 32nd staging of the Bell/Ziadie Memorial Football Fun Day matches will for the first time include a Special Olympics team.
This follows the second-place finish by Jamaica's Special Olympics football team at the first Special Olympics unified football competition in Chicago recently.
Lorna Bell, executive director of Special Olympics Jamaica and wife of the late 'Jackie' Bell, one of the persons after whom the event was named, was pleased that organiser Clive 'Busy' Campbell thought to include them this year.
"I am really happy Clive Campbell has decided to include Special Olympics because Jackie and Chris (Ziadie) did so much for Jamaica, and they would have liked to have everybody included in this occasion. So we welcome this opportunity to be playing on the same field with normal persons and this should let us all realise that inclusion is key and no one is to be left behind," Bell said.
She also believes it's a chance for local football supporters to know the Special Olympics Jamaica football players, who are preparing for the Special Olympics World Football Championships, which will be held in Abu Dhabi next year.
"I am very excited because I don't think many Jamaicans recognise that we were the first Caribbean team to play in the Special Olympics' first unified football competition. We defeated teams like China [and] Italy and lost to France 1-0 (in the final). They are ready as they have been training for the last three years for the World Championships," she added.
The annual event, which is held at St George's College, takes place on Heroes' Day, October 15, and will start at 2:00 p.m. Four teams will compete for honours this year, including a Masters and Entertainers team, St George's Invitational, the Jamaica Special Olympics team and Christian Ambassadors.
The teams will include well-known sporting personalities and public figures such as Robbie Scott, Orlando 'Yoyo' Walters, and Mitchily Wual
for St George's Invitational. Christian Ambassadors will have persons such as Reverend Garfield Robinson and David Laylor in their ranks.
Masters and Entertainers will include a host of celebrities, including year-to-year star players Christopher Martin, Wayne Marshall, Tony Curtis, Romain Virgo, Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner, Ian 'Pepe' Goodison, Kevin 'Pele' Wilson and Cornel Chin-Sue.
Meanwhile, Glenroy Brown, St George's Sports Council president, said the contribution of Bell and Zaidie to Jamaica was immeasurable. He went further to imagine the influence they would have had on local football today if they were alive.
"I think they would have taken football to that higher level. If they were here, they would have made a better contribution to our football," he said.
Former national players Dennis Hutchinson, Lenworth Hyde and Frankie Lewis will all be honoured, as well as Paulette Riley, who is the first Jamaican female FIFA referee.