Come on, play!

Happy faces, keen eyes, a genuine smiles - it was all during the official opening of the football project "Come on, play! / Davai, grai!” for girls with intellectual disabilities. "Come on, play!" - a joint project of Special Olympics Ukraine (SOU), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Shakhtar Social officially opened on November 3 at one of the best gyms in Kiev, Novopechersk school. The training process has already begun and covered four Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk. The girls will be coached by 4 coaches and 8 volunteers in an adapted training session specifically designed for Disability Football. Today, Shakhtar's legendary player, head coach of U15 Gennady Zubov, who has professionally shared his skills and experience, has joined the training of Shakhtar and SOU coaches.

During the opening, the young players had the opportunity to work out, chat and take pictures, get backpacks from SOU, UNFPA and Shakhtar Social as a gift. Parents cheered their children on the grandstands, and many leading media, we hope, will objectively spread our important inclusive project across Ukraine.

"Every day, thanks to the power of sports, special children with intellectual disabilities are discovering new talents and opportunities for success, exceeding their own performance and eliminating barriers and prejudices," said Andrii Pidvarko, Executive Director of SOU. – Football is the most popular collective sport of the Special Olympics Ukraine with its 17 our official Olympic types. In 2016, the Ukrainian team won bronze medals at the Special Olympics European Football Tournament. And at the 2011 SO World Summer Games in Athens, the SOU men's team won gold medals. Today, when it comes to gender equality, the openness of Ukrainian society, and the fight against stereotypes, the involvement of girls in traditional "men's" sports is an important component. One is football.

Women's football is rapidly gaining momentum in the world and in particular in the Special Olympics Ukraine. More and more girls are choosing this particular sport for its magic, speed, and popularity. It is no coincidence that this year the Ukrainian women's national football team at the SO World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi won gold medals. So today we give life to a unique project. Participation of girls in it is free. This is the principle position of the Special Olympics. We believe that people with intellectual disabilities can succeed and will do so if given the chance. I am convinced that such lessons will teach girls to dream first, and then help them become focused, teach and lose, and then find the strength to make another attempt, another blow and finally reach their goal. What could be better than laughter and joy from your own victory."

Workshops from professional football players in Kiev, Kharkiv and Mariupol are also planned in the future, where girls will be able to learn technique and experience from professional players of FC Shakhtar.