SO Jamaica continued their dominance of the men’s tournament at the Special Olympics Unified Cup this year, winning the championship for the second time.
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.
Jamaica would reign supreme once again in the men’s championship, seeing off a spirited Paraguay outfit in the final at Keyworth Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. Jamaica have now reached the final in all three iterations of the Unified Cup, winning in 2019 and 2022.
As manager Shane Richards pointed out to 90min, the victory this time round was made even sweeter by the fact that the win over Paraguay came on the Jamaican independence day.
“I don’t think [the win] has really sunk in yet because it was on our independence day. It really hit us when we scored that free kick. We remembered that our family are back home and the celebration that was taking place back home in our country knowing that we had won an international trophy.”
The brilliant last minute free kick scored by Ontwain Mitchell proved to be the highlight for co-captain and star goalkeeper Omarion Brown too, as he stated that it was the moment they knew they’d won the tournament:
“The best moment, for me, was when we scored the free-kick in the last minute of the final. That was when we knew we’d won the game and the championship.”
That goal from Mitchell capped off an astonishing tournament for SO Jamaica, who won every single game at the tournament scoring 32 goals in just six games. As well as scoring all of these goals, the brilliant Omarion Brown didn’t concede a single goal either, earning himself the Golden Glove award for his efforts between the posts.
One of the key reasons for these performances has been the nation’s insistence on playing football in a certain way, the way manager Richards wants them to play:
“I’m a Barcelona type of person who likes to pass the ball. I love their philosophy of passing the ball around.”
The historic victory for Jamaica is, as co-captain Rolando Redman said to 90min, something that the coaches and playing staff will remember forever: “A great experience that I’ll always remember.”