Pair played unified game at the traditional curtain-raiser to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA

UAE, 18 January 2018: Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, winner of the 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA captained Zimbabwe’s Special Olympic athlete Munyaradzi Musariri as part of a unified team during the Pro-Am ahead of the long standing European Tour event.

The unified team is a part of ongoing efforts of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi to educate the public about the largest humanitarian sporting event in the world heading to Abu Dhabi in 2019. Special Olympics is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and allows athletes with intellectual disabilities to train, take part and compete in a variety of sports.

Munyaradzi, a decorated Special Olympics athlete from Zimbabwe, added playing in a Pro-Am to his roster of accolades yesterday which includes winning gold at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015, Zimbabwe’s National Games in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, Sportsman of the Year with a Disability at the annual National Sports Awards 2016 and Best Player at the Asia Pacific Golf Masters in Macau 2016. Commented on his experience of playing with 2014 winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, he said: “I became involved in Special Olympics through school and was picked by coaches to play golf, the sport has helped me so much in my life. I’ve flown from Zimbabwe for this tournament and it’s my first time here in Abu Dhabi. It was good to play with a professional like Pablo, I would love to play with him another time.”

"I had a great game with Munya. It’s great to meet people who are pushing hard and trying every day to be better at our sport. Golf is a very fun and unique game, it takes a lot of abilities to play but is great for everyone. It is probably the only game that exists where you never lose, you always finish in a position, so it is a great for young people and athletes with intellectual disabilities to get involved in."
Pablo Larrazabal, Professional Golfer

The Special Olympics LOC will be at the fan village at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from 18-21 January to recruit volunteers for the MENA Games coming up in March 2018. The volunteer programme offers participants, with and without intellectual disabilities, the chance to be involved in the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world, offering hundreds of possible jobs in diverse sectors.

Amira Al Muhairai, Volunteers Program Director, at the local organising committee of Special Olympics Abu Dhabi, said: “We are excited to watch one of our very own athletes, Munyaradzi, play in a Pro-Am with Pablo Larrazabal. Sport brings people together and Special Olympics is committed to promoting social inclusion through unified sports training and games. We would like to thank Abu Dhabi Sports Council for allowing us the opportunity to get involved in this prestigious event and further promote our values around unity, tolerance, fun, and the accessibility of sports for everyone in the UAE.”

“I encourage all wishing to sign up for the Volunteers Program, of the largest humanitarian sport event in the world to visit the fan village at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship”.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 will take place from 17 - 22 March 2018 where over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi to take part in the Games, the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports across multiple venues in Abu Dhabi.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 8-22, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular Opening Ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people with disabilities, and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.