The skills are improving but more importantly the social interactions are as well. You don't look at the disabilities, you look at the person. —Judy Hut
SANDY — Real Salt Lake and Special Olympics Utah are coming together for an inaugural event as part of the MLS Works/Special Olympics Unified Sports Soccer Exchange Program.
Following RSL's match on Friday against the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Real Salt Lake Unified team will host the Colorado Rapids Unified team.
Prospective players tried out on April 27 during the High School Unified Sports Championships. RSL signed the Unified Team on July 8, when the newly selected players had an official signing day at Rio Tinto Stadium. They were each given a contract to sign and shown the locker room.
Unified Sport Soccer Team has athletes with and without disabilities. The event is to promote learning new skills, social inclusion and getting an opportunity to play at a high level of sport some of the kids normally wouldn’t get to play at.
"This team has trained for two months in preparation for the game," RSL Unified head coach Jenna Holland said in a news release. “Our athletes come from Mapleton to Ogden and are an advanced level competitive team. Our team is ready to add to the Real winning tradition, and to show the Riot what playing unified is all about.”
Judy Hut, outreach and volunteer manager for Special Olympics Utah, added: “Athletes with disabilities have the skill and talent to compete. The community can become more supportive by working, playing and interacting with those who have disabilities.”
Even after just a few months of practice you can tell a difference. Hut went on to say the following.
“The skills are improving but more importantly the social interactions are as well. You don’t look at the disabilities, you look at the person.”
The scheduled start time is at 8:15 p.m. The game will be free to the public and fans can enter through the east gates after 8 p.m.
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22