Colleagues at the headquarters of Mitsubishi Electric, in Hatfield, recently experienced football at its most inclusive by hosting a ‘Unified’ tournament with charity partner, Special Olympics Great Britain.

Staged at the University of Hertfordshire, the Unified Football tournament brought together 18 Mitsubishi Electric colleagues with 12 athletes with an intellectual disability from Special Olympics Essex. Here they played alongside each other in mixed teams in a 5-a-side tournament.

“Playing Unified Football does so much in helping our athletes develop on and off the pitch,” said Nigel Stuart, Chair of Special Olympics Essex and coach of Team Special Olympics GB’s Unified Football team at last year’s World Games in Berlin.

“Everyone learns from each other, and new friendships are made when you bring together people with and without an intellectual disability in the same sporting team. It’s fantastic that Mitsubishi Electric are so accommodating, and keen to learn more about the experiences of our athletes by hosting this Unified tournament.”

Mitsubishi Electric is a long-standing supporter of Special Olympics GB, having initially backed the charity as a partner in 2018. Since the beginning of their partnership, their colleagues have been active volunteers in a wide variety of events, Special Olympics GB 40th Anniversary Games in Stirling in 2018, the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Games, through smaller individual regional events. It signed a two-year extension to its partnership in January last year.

Junko Rao, Senior Strategy Assistant at Mitsubishi Electric UK Branch said: “We were delighted to cement our relationship with the Special Olympics GB team through this unified football match.

“All the players learnt from each other and really enjoyed taking part in such an inclusive activity in a competitive yet supportive environment.

“At Mitsubishi Electric our corporate mission is to Make Changes For The Better and this event is just one example of how, by working together with Special Olympics GB, we can make things happen.”

Special Olympics Great Britain is the largest provider of sports training and competition for children and adults with an intellectual disability. Operating in England, Scotland and Wales, the charity has more than 6,600 athletes benefitting from opportunities in 27 different sports, which are delivered by a devoted team of 3,800 volunteers.