Columbus Crew SC today announced that the Club will partner with Sporting Kansas City to host a Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer match between the Special Olympics Ohio team and the Special Olympics Kansas/Missouri team. The match is set to take place on Sunday, June 23 at MAPFRE Stadium following the First Team match between Crew SC and Sporting KC, which is slated to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. ET [FOX Sports Ohio, FOX Sports GO (Stream) / 97.1 The Fan & 971TheFan.com (English); ColumbusCrewSC.com (Spanish)]. Supporters are encouraged to stay for both matches this weekend.
The match, presented by Acura, is part of the 2019 Special Olympics Unified Sports Soccer Exchange Program, which is a collaboration between Major League Soccer, ESPN and Special Olympics as part of MLS WORKS, the League's social responsibility platform. The event is also part of Crew SC's Give Forward initiative, presented by MAPFRE Insurance.
Sunday’s contest marks the fifth consecutive year that the Black & Gold has participated in the Special Olympics Unified Match and the third consecutive year that Acura has partnered with the Club for the event. Last year’s match took place at Exploria Stadium against Orlando City SC’s affiliate Unified Team.
Following the June 23 match, the Special Olympics Ohio team will travel to San Jose, California to face the Special Olympics Northern California team – the San Jose Earthquakes’ affiliate – for an exhibition match at Avaya Stadium, home of the Earthquakes, following the First Team’s match at Avaya Stadium on Saturday, August 3.
As part of the Unified Exchange program, Crew SC and other MLS clubs provide Unified athletes with unique experiences such as signing days, jersey unveils, buddy programs with MLS first-team players, and gameday recognition. Additionally, Special Olympics Ohio will be outfitted in authentic uniforms provided by adidas.
The goal of the Unified Exchange program is to provide Special Olympic athletes with top-level training and competitive experiences, as well as life experiences that they might not otherwise engage in.