Throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities are training hard as they look to represent their families and nations at the largest global sporting and humanitarian event of the year, the 2023 Special Olympics World Games.
From football to athletics to basketball and beyond, the World Games in Berlin, Germany, promises to be a remarkable display of sports excellence, determination, resilience, and courage.
Special Olympics national delegations have convened athletes, coaches, medical professionals, and technical officials alike to position their athletes for gold — and to achieve their personal best.
It is an ambitious effort — in this post-pandemic global setting — and one that Special Olympics national organisations have accepted with excitement and anticipation.
As the emblematic city of Berlin welcomes over 7,000 athletes from around the globe, the nation of Germany and the world will serve as witnesses to much more than a sporting event, but one that calls forward the better version of all who attend.
Every athlete and every team has a coach, a community, and a network of supporters. Equally important, each athlete and team embarking on the journey to Berlin has a sponsor empowering them to give it their all, helping to connect them with the world. Across the Caribbean region, there is one sponsor — one of the most concerned corporate actors in the world today — that has made this historic and memorable journey to Berlin a reality. That sponsor is Digicel.
With over two decades of support to the movement of Special Olympics, Digicel has steadfastly empowered athletes with intellectual disabilities to give it their all — both on and off the field of play. The company continues to make a formidable investment in inclusive sports opportunities for youth of all abilities as part of a larger vision to create a world where no one is left behind. And that's just the beginning.
As a global audience looks to the World Games in Berlin, Digicel is committed to ensuring that the mainstream sees, understands, and engages in this platform for change. Through increased corporate volunteerism, marketing and public awareness, fund-raising and more, Digicel has activated its entire corporate structure in support of a population often on the margins. Each national Digicel office is working closely with their national Special Olympics delegations to organise special events to see the athletes off, welcome them back, and celebrate their grit and athletic performances.
Digicel's mission is to keep people connected. This mission affords Special Olympics athletes from across the Caribbean an opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to showcase their skills, determination, and represent their nation. From a rural pitch in the parish of Manchester to the global stage in Berlin, Digicel is indeed creating deep connections between Special Olympics athletes and the world.
"The athletes of Special Olympics across the Caribbean are incredibly grateful to Digicel for their deep and long-standing partnership," said Lorna Bell, the executive director of Special Olympics Caribbean and a globally recognised advocate for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
"This is a partnership that began in 2003 in the magnificent Croke Park in Dublin at our 2003 Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, and it now is changing lives in local communities across one of the fastest-growing regions of the Special Olympics movement," she noted.
When the world convenes in Berlin to celebrate the Games, Digicel will be side by side with the athletes and coaches to not only cheer them on but also add its voice to the urgency of inclusive national policies to help improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of life.
Through the Global Forum for Inclusion, a high-level policy event that will be celebrated at the Games, Digicel will have executives speaking at numerous convenings to highlight the need for Special Olympics athletes to contribute to key themes such as digitisation, gender equity in sports, and more. From Kingston to Port of Spain to Roseau and beyond, Digicel is making sure the magic that comes from focused inclusion through sports reaches all corners of the region and the world. That's a sponsorship that helps all of us achieve our best, a supporter that helps connect us to a more inclusive world.
Editor's note: David S Evangelista is president and managing director, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia.