SOJ footballers hit perfect 10 against Singapore
Jamaica's Ashanie Kennedy (centre) tries to evade challenges by Singapore's Ammar Roslee (left) and Harum Yusoff during the Special Olympics Unified Cup match at Schoolcraft College in Michigan. (Photo: Collin Reid courtesy of Digicel Foundation and Courts)

Special Olympics Jamaica's (SOJ) male team made a loud statement heading into the semi-finals of the Unified Football Cup after a resounding 10-0 beating of Singapore on Thursday at Schoolcraft College in Michigan to wrap up group stage proceedings.

Dillion Richards, who has scored in every game so far, notched a hat-trick for the Jamaicans. Kemar Jones, Geovanni Britton, Rolando Redman, Ashanie Kennedy, Jerome Lindo, Ellis Guscott, and Akeem Dacosta were the other scorers.

Jamaica, guided by Head Coach Shane Richards, finished the group stage with an unblemished record after previously defeating Paraguay 4-0, Romania 3-0, and Saudi Arabia 3-0.

Late on Thursday, the SOJ male team was scheduled to face Morocco at Schoolcraft College.

"It was an excellent group with some really good performances from the boys. Scoring 20 goals while conceding none speaks volumes of how well they did. We are ready for any team that will meet us in the division one semi-final," said Fadil Lee, the SOJ football team assistant coach.

At the inaugural Unified Cup in Chicago in 2018, Jamaica's male team had an impressive run en route to losing 0-1 to France in the Division Two final.

On Thursday, Lee had special praise for the players with intellectual disabilities, whom he felt outdid their unified partners against Singapore.

"The final group game exemplified the true meaning of inclusion as the athletes [with disabilities] outshone the partners," he told the Jamaica Observer.

Team Caribbean, comprising female players from Aruba, Haiti, Jamaica, and The Bahamas, were also in action at the Unified Cup on Thursday, going down 0-2 to Slovakia's female side at The Corner Ballpark.

Slovakia's strikes came from Tatiana Sirejova and Zora Obertova.

In the group stage, the Caribbean females ended 0-0 with Slovakia before losing 0-7 to Guatemala on Monday. However, they had rebounded to clip Namibia 2-1 on Tuesday.

The unified sports programme, a focus of the Special Olympics movement, combines people with intellectual disabilities and those without disabilities in training and competition.

Through sport activities and competition, the Special Olympics International movement aims to break down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome, from mainstream society.

The disabilities can either be acquired or genetic, and can also include cases of cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and some cases of developmental delay.

— Sanjay Myers

Team Caribbean goalkeeper Nicole Wright makes a save during the Special Olympics Unified Cup semi-final match at The Corner Ballpark in Michigan. (Photo: Collin Reid courtesy of Digicel Foundation and Courts)
Jamaica's Dillion Richards (right) shoots to score past Singapore goalkeeper Pin Yun Han during the Special Olympics Unified Cup match at Schoolcraft College in Michigan on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (Photo: Collin Reid courtesy of Digicel Foundation and Courts)
Team Caribbean's Loaiza Palacio (right) gets to the ball ahead of Ingrid Uhlichova of Slovakia during the Special Olympics Unified Cup semi-final match at The Corner Ballpark in Michigan. (Photo: Collin Reid courtesy of Digicel Foundation and Courts)
Slovakia's Tatiana Sirejova (left) challenges Team Caribbean's Aaliyah Treleven during the Special Olympics Unified Cup semi-final match at The Corner Ballpark in Michigan on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (Photo: Collin Reid courtesy of Digicel Foundation and Courts)
Sanjay Myers

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