Houston Dynamo and Dash staff members stepped up for a scrimmage against the Houston Dynamo Unified Team, presented by 76®, as part of Soccer for All Month, a month-long celebration held throughout June that celebrate soccer’s unique ability to unite people of all walks of life.
“This is our fourth year of the Unified program. The team is made up of athletes with disabilities as well as partner athletes that assist on the field,” explained Val Holland, Director of Community Relations and coach of the staff team. “This group has the opportunity to participate in a first team experience by traveling to other MLS cities to play other Unified teams. Thanks to our partnership with 76, we traveled to LA in April to play the Galaxy and will start up again in August when we play Chicago and Dallas."
The Dynamo Unified Team practices on a regular basis to prepare for their matches, and has frequently faced Dynamo Academy teams as part of their training. With the Academy unavailable, the call went out to front office staff to assemble a team to scrimmage the Special Olympics squad.
Reyna, a Dynamo Unified Athlete, said, “It was fun to compete and see [the staff] go really hard. It’s fun to play as a team and see that competitiveness come out in them."
The scrimmage brought staff and Unified Athletes and Partners closer together as the club celebrates inclusiveness through soccer during Soccer For All month. The friendly finished with the Unified Team winning 2-1 against the front office staff.
“Soccer For All means people with disabilities being able to get on the same playing field," Dynamo Unified assistant coach Jaime Ortega said of what Soccer For All means to him. "You come to realize that there’s nothing wrong with them, there’s nothing different about them, and a lot of these athletes will be able to compete with the highest level.”