“Unified sports as a good social model for an integrated society!”
The Special Olympics Korea (SOK) K League Unified Cup, a soccer tournament that brings together people with developmental disabilities and people without disabilities, is now in its third year.
Held since 2020 in partnership with the Korea Football Association and Special Olympics Korea, the Unified Cup aims to break down barriers between people with disabilities and non-disabled people through the medium of soccer, and to realize the values of social inclusion and equality.
The number of participating teams is increasing every year. This year, a total of 11 teams participated, including first-time competitors Chungnam Asan and the Korean Football Association. In May, we held a soccer clinic in Jecheon as part of Season 3 of ‘Everyone’s Soccer Field, Everyone’s K League’, and in August, we played a friendly match with the Frankfurt Unified Soccer Team. The program is growing steadily in both quantity and quality.레고토토
Special Olympics Korea President Lee Yong-hoon said, “Three years seems to have flown by. I think that unified soccer has grown and developed as a social model, and we have also made efforts for inner and outer growth, which is a period of establishing a good social model. On the sporting side, the players’ skills have improved tremendously, and we are seeing a change in the perception of special needs players by their partners.”
Last year, the organization also hosted the Special Olympics Korea K League International Unified Soccer Club Cup, which featured the prestigious Spanish club Valencia Unified Soccer Team. “It was a good achievement,” Lee said. I hope that through these things, the tournament will become a little more friendly in society.”
While the sport of unified soccer is important in its own right, Lee’s blueprint is to broaden its scope and create a “positive impact” on society. “I’ve said it before, but it shouldn’t just be an investment for people with developmental disabilities, it should be for society as a whole. Unified sports is an important step towards an integrated society. It is important to create a virtuous cycle.”
“Improving physical abilities through sports, as well as courage and self-confidence, will provide a springboard to challenge society. Inclusive sports can be a stepping stone to reaching out to society if you have a sense of belonging on an equal footing with your teammates, and if your bonds and interactions continue outside of sports. It’s not just a sport. There are definitely more plus factors.”