The Houston Dynamo and Special Olympics Texas will once again work together to create the Houston Dynamo Unified Team, presented by 76®.
The Dynamo Unified Team was introduced Thursday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium during a very special news conference. Each of the Dynamo Unified athletes signed official player contracts with the Houston Dynamo and took part in photo shoots just like their first team counterparts. The 76® brand is the title sponsor for the Houston Dynamo Unified Team again for the second year in a row. Players will receive team uniforms and training gear compliments of 76®.
Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified teams join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away. Motiva, on behalf of the 76® brand, will be donating $10,000 to the Dynamo Unified Special Olympics Team again this year to aid these efforts. This is part of a larger organizational effort to take a localized approach in supporting the communities where they operate.
The team will practice every Wednesday from 6:30-8:30pm at 2700 E. Pasadena Blvd in Deer Park. Once a month, the team will host a special practice at Houston Sports Park, during which time Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash players and coaches will help the athletes perfect their skills.
This year the team will take part in a home-and-away series with Sporting Kansas City Unified on Saturday, June 23 in Kansas City and again on Saturday, Aug. 4 in Houston. The match in Houston will take place immediately following the first team match on the pitch at BBVA Compass Stadium. Representatives from the 76® brand will be at the Aug. 4 game to present a check to the Dynamo Unified Team during halftime.
The team will also have the opportunity to play the FC Dallas Unified team on Saturday, Sept. 1 in Dallas, and will conclude their season with a final home game against The San Jose Earthquakes Unified team on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Fans are encouraged to stay after the Dynamo first team match against Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 4 to cheer on both Unified teams on the field. The game against San Jose Unified will be played Saturday, September 29 in the morning at the Houston Sports Park, and is free to attend.
This is the third year that the Dynamo and Special Olympics Texas joined together as part of a larger partnership with MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, and Special Olympics North America. The Dynamo and Special Olympics Texas are collaborating to leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports.
The matches between these teams will showcase the Unified Sports exchange program that is the cornerstone of the ongoing partnership between MLS and Special Olympics North America. Through the Unified Sports soccer exchange program, Unified soccer teams from MLS cities travel to other MLS markets to receive training from MLS players and coaches, as well as compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts in that MLS market. Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches.