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Manchester United and Special Olympics Unite to Celebrate Teamwork

July 20, 2011

Manchester United players pose with Special Olympics athletes from Seattle during a soccer clinic (courtesy: Manchester United Foundation/Aon Corp)

Manchester United players pose with Special Olympics athletes from Seattle during a soccer clinic (courtesy: Manchester United Foundation/Aon Corp)

World Renowned Soccer Club to Share Expertise with Special Olympics Athletes During their American Tour Through “Skills and Drills” Clinics

Washington, D.C. – Special Olympics has partnered with Manchester United for a series of skill-building clinics led by club coaches and star players as the team takes a five-city tour of the United States this summer.

The clinics are part of a growing relationship between Special Olympics and Manchester United, which supports unity through sport amongst all athletes, encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities and promoting acceptance for all. The event is on the heels of Special Olympics Team USA soccer gold-medal victory at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece earlier in July.

Players and coaches from the Manchester United Football Club and the Manchester United Soccer School will host “Skills and Drills” soccer clinics for Special Olympics athletes in each city of the club’s five-city U.S. tour. John Shiels, Chief Executive of Manchester United Foundation along with Manchester United players and their soccer school coaches will lead Special Olympics athletes in a series of drills and skill-building exercises that help to improve technique and show the transformative and unifying power of sport.

The clinics began on July 12th in Boston at Harvard University, and will progress through four additional markets, each clinic happening locally at 5:30 pm with the exception of DC, including Seattle, which took place yesterday at Seattle University, Chicago (July 22nd) at the University of Chicago, New Jersey (July 26th) at Montclair University and concluding in Washington, DC (at 5:00 pm, July 29th) at the American University. In some cities, the clinics will be preceded by “Unity Matches” (where Special Olympics athletes, regional players and members of Manchester United will join in friendly competition), with both activities leading into Manchester United’s official games, including a highly anticipated match-up with the Major League Soccer All-Star team on July 27th  at Red Bull Stadium in New Jersey.

“Special Olympics is proud to be associated with the Manchester United Foundation on its 2011 United States tour. We know that Manchester United represents the best in soccer on a global basis and this partnership will inspire our athletes to achieve their maximum potential. Likewise we know our Special Olympics athletes will inspire their new friends from Manchester United how soccer can help unite the world for people of all backgrounds and abilities,” said Bob Gobrecht, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America.

Soccer is the world's biggest game and is the fastest growing sport in Special Olympics with more than 435,000 soccer-playing athletes globally, participating in 206 accredited programs with 65,000 of those athletes from Special Olympics’ North America region in 46 states. Special Olympics hopes to grow to have more than 1 million soccer athletes by 2015.

Special Olympics Team USA Soccer players recently returned from the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece as gold medalists in a sport where the United States is often overlooked. The team, hailing from Maryland, will be celebrated at Manchester United’s match against FC Barcelona on July 30th in Washington D.C . 

“We saw these clinics as a great opportunity to create an event but also leave a legacy,” said John Shiels, Chief Executive of the Manchester United Foundation.

All of the clinics are sponsored by Aon Corporation (NYSE:AON), the principal partner and shirt sponsor of Manchester United, and the Manchester United Foundation.

To learn more visit www.specialolympics.org or www.manutd.com and support through the following social media outlets: www.facebook.com/specialolympics or www.facebook.com/manchesterunitedfoundation

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world  to community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on:Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

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CONTACT:
Mandy Murphy      
Special Olympics   
+1 (202) 824 – 0227          
mamurphy@specialolympics.org

Rebecca Newton
Manchester United Foundation
+44 0161 868 8602     
rebecca.newton@mufoundation.org


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“We saw these clinics as a great opportunity to create an event but also leave a legacy.”


John Shiels, Chief Executive of the Manchester United Foundation.

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