Another hugely successful iteration of the Special Olympics’ football tournament the Unified Cup is in the books.
Taking place between 31st July – 6th August, the Unified Cup played host to over 300 footballers and Unified partners from over 20 nations and showcased the power of inclusion and the joy of sport through soccer.
And at the end of the seven days it was Special Olympics Guatemala who would triumph in the 2022 women’s Unified Cup, beating SO USA 5-1 in the final in the Keyworth Stadium Detroit, Michigan.
Guatemala were in irrepressible form throughout the competition and scored a whopping 32 goals and conceded just one in their five games. Key to their potency in front of goal was their star forward Adriana Ramirez who, at just 15 years old, finished as the Unified Cup’s Golden Boot winner by scoring an astonishing 12 goals.
Speaking to 90min after being crowned a 2022 Unified Cup champions, Ramirez hailed her coaches and the adrenaline she garnered from playing in front of a huge crowd at the Keyworth Stadium as the reasons for her success:
“The experience was very nice, there were very nice and inexplicable moments. At some point I
felt overwhelmed by the pressure but my coaches helped me through,” said Ramirez. “When we reached the final, I liked it a lot but also in the 6th minute of the game, I felt very
pressured and nervous, to the point that they had to take me off the field.
“I was scared, but I have wonderful coaches who gave me confidence and I came back with much more courage and bravery, I managed to score a goal, we won and being able to hold the cup in our hands.
“All the screams of the people gave me adrenaline and made me want to play even more.”
While Ramirez was scoring the goals at one end of the pitch, goalkeeper Diana Arias was keeping them out at the other. The Guatemala number one was in imperious form in Detroit, conceding just one goal throughout the whole Unified Cup.
Arias, speaking to 90min, said there were tears of joy when she and her nation won the coveted trophy:
“My experience in the tournament was of another level, I had never been in an international
competition, I never imagined having such a unique experience, I am very grateful.
“I feel such a great pride that I’m speechless and I can’t describe what I feel right now, my chest is full. Without a doubt, I am very happy.
“With all the happiness we had at that moment [when they won the final], with cheers, shouting, crying, but above all super happy each one of us, we cried with happiness for achieving what we wanted so badly.”