“I can’t believe that I just met with the living legend Maradona,” said Mahamudul Hasan, a 19-year-old partner to Sojib, a 22-year-old athlete with intellectual disabilities. “He is an inspiration to all of us, his presence has given us a push forward to give more and play better,” he said. The team consists of eight athletes with intellectual disabilities and seven partners, who are not disabled, and who have been practising together for around three months to prepare for the Games. “Being part of the Special Olympics Games and having the chance to support people with disabilities had made me develop so many skills as we play together and learn from each other,” said Mr Hasan, who started playing football at the age of 11. “I have two uncles with disabilities and that encouraged me more to participate and prove to them that nothing is impossible and that they can do anything they want with determination and will,” he said. Mr Hasan said increasing public awareness about people with disabilities and highlighting their accomplishments will change society's perception towards them. “They have the power to do anything if we teach them and spend time with them and they deserve more, and the society should know how to treat them with respect and equality and this is one of the reasons that made me join the team,” he said. “My partner can’t speak and hear. At first we couldn’t communicate but with time we developed a way of communication and I’m very proud of what we accomplished so far,” said Mr Hasan. Another partner to a Special Olympic football athlete said he joined the team to learn and to help others.
Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona took part in a football match in Fujairah today, alongside members of the Special Olympics Bangladesh football team. #SpecialOlympicsAD #AbuDhabiPrepares #HereToParticipate pic.twitter.com/teCIeLHfr2— Special Olympics AD (@WorldGamesAD) March 13, 2018