The New York Red Bulls announced twelve signings for the Special Olympics Unified team today. The Red Bulls organization is one of several across the league to present a Unified team in partnership with their local Special Olympics chapter.
The goal is to promote understanding and connection through a shared love of sport. Players will train and travel with the first team, allowing them to gain a unique experience while showcasing their talents.
Prudential Financial, Inc. is a presenting partner of the RBNY Unified team. “This program is so special because it impacts people of all backgrounds, and is a wonderful expression of inclusion and inspiration,” said Niharika Shah of Prudential Financial, Inc. The team met with RBNY Sporting Director Denis Hamlett to tour the Arena and receive their uniforms. “We are honored to have these 12 players represent our club,” Hamlett said at the signing event.
Now in their sixth season, the Unified team is part of the MLS Works Unified Exchange Program. MLS Works is the community outreach organization within Major League Soccer. Other programs from MLS Works include the Kick Childhood Cancer initative and the Soccer For All campaign.
These teams will play exhibition matches at MLS arenas around the country. Last year, two RBNY Unified players earned selection for the All-Star match as part of MLS All-Star Game festivities in Atlanta. RBNY Unified will begin their season this weekend, when they travel with the first team to face the Sporting Kansas City Unified team.
There will be four matches for the Unified team this season, three of them at Red Bull Arena. Unified Team games pair with RBNY as double headers with first team matches. Fans will have the opportunity to watch these teams and learn more about the Unified Exchange Program.