Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Special Olympics 5-a-side

The Gibraltar Special Olympics five-a-side football team will compete in a new cross-border league that kicks off on October 1st.

The local side will compete against teams from La Linea de La Concepción, Tarifa, Ceuta and Barbate, with matches taking place fortnightly and teams playing each other twice, once away and once at home.

One of the drivers behind the initiative was the absence of the sport in this year’s Strait Games in Algeciras. The town has concentrated on athletics and no longer has a five-a-side football team.

“Every year we’ve had a five-a-side football tournament during the Strait Games but this year Algeciras decided not to include the sport,” said Jose Antonio Carracao, Ceuta’s representative on the league’s organising committee.

“The players were disappointed and it was hard to explain why it hadn’t happened this year.”

Annie Risso, president of Gibraltar Special Olympics, added:

“It’s turned out positively because instead of waiting to compete once a year, they’ll now be competing fortnightly.”

The league, both of them stressed, did not rule out future five-a-side football tournaments as part of the Strait Games.
The organising committee, comprised of representatives from Gibraltar, La Linea, Tarifa and Ceuta, will jointly purchase trophies for the winning sides.

Known as the ‘Strait League’, the initiative will offer players regular opportunities to employ their skills.

“It’s marvellous to watch the way that they play,” Mrs Risso said. “They are great experts.”

Travelling to other neighbouring towns is also part of the appeal, particularly when it comes to playing on the other side of the Strait.

“It will be attractive for the players too because they will get the trip out to Ceuta, so it’s an adventure,” Mr Carracao said.

The first matches will be between Barbate and Ceuta and Gibraltar and La Linea. The latter game will take place on October 8th because of a diary clash.

Details of future games are available online at www.22520.com, under League 9 in the recreational sport section. (Note: Page is not accessible.)

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