Eyes on the prize - Ja target Special Olympics World Games football title
Shane Richards, coach of Jamaica's Special Olympics football team, said that he is confident that the team can win the football event at the World Games in Abu Dhabi next year.
The team finished second at the recent Special Olympics Unified Football Cup, staged in Chicago, USA. They lost to France, in the final, but Richards believes that they are on a roll and expects them to continue that form into next year.
"We are confident even coming here," Richards told The Gleaner.
"These guys want to show Jamaica and the wider public what they can do and what they are here for. So we are hoping to go there and get the gold, not the silver this time," he said.
"We want to showcase to the persons we want to support us. We have been training, and the thing is to get a team together, get them to gel and get everyone to get on board to buy into the programme," he added.
Richards, who has been involved with Special Olympics Jamaica for over 15 years, revealed that the team has been together since 2016, but in recent times, they have improved the squad to give themselves a better chance at the Games.
RARING TO GO
"We have changed personnel as we are going to the World Games in 2019 in Abu Dhabi. Preparation has stepped up, and the players know what they want, and they are hungry. They are at training every Saturday, and they are putting in the work and are raring to go. After getting the opportunity to go to Chicago, I think they will take this one (World Games) with both hands," he added.
He noted that the Unified Cup included countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, South Korea, China, Bangladesh, India, the United Arab Emirates, France, Russia, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, Nigeria and Kenya and that he was proud that the team did so well. He said that they could not have achieved what they did, however, without the support of Special Olympics Jamaica Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lorna Bell.
"We are trying to get people to know and support this, and that's why we thank our CEO, Mrs Lorna Bell. She is the person behind the programme and has stuck with it," he said.