Taunton, Mass. - On Sunday, November 14 Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) will descend upon Foxborough for the second annual SOMA State Flag Football & Cheerleading Games. The season-ending event, which is being hosted by the New England Patriots, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and the King Philip Youth Football League, will be held at Gillette Stadium starting at 9:30 a.m. with a traditional SOMA Opening Ceremonies and Parade of Athletes.
"We had such a wonderful time hosting this event last year and we are really looking forward to another great event," said Andre Tippett, Pro Football Hall of Famer and Executive Director of Community Affairs for the Patriots. "There is no better setting for a football celebration than Gillette Stadium, and it's our honor to be a part of the Special Olympics."
More than 425 Special Olympics Athletes and Unified® Partners from across Massachusetts, Rhode Island Connecticut and New Hampshire are expected to participate in the event, which will feature Unified 5x5 flag football games, football skills and cheerleading demonstrations. The number of participants is double that of last year's event, and the number of teams is up from 20 in 2009 to 34 registered for 2010. Unified® Sports combines individuals with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team playing as equal teammates against other Unified teams.
The Nov. 14 event timeline includes:
8:30 a.m. Registration
9:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies
10 a.m. Flag Football games will begin in Gillette Stadium
10:30 a.m. Punt, Pass & Kick Skills stations to begin at Dana Farber Field House
12:30 p.m. Unified Cheerleading Demonstration
3:00 p.m. Awards/Closing Ceremonies
Backed by the New England Patriots as well as a growing number of youth football leagues across the state, Special Olympics Massachusetts for the second year in a row is formally offering its athletes and coaches the opportunity to train and compete in flag football, football skills and cheerleading.
"We're very excited to bring the benefits and joy of organized football and cheerleading to our Athletes," said Robert Johnson, president and CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts. "It's the only major American sport our Athletes haven't had access to, until recently that is. And what better way is there to spend a day than to compete with your friends in a sport that you love - all while becoming healthier in the process. It's a championship combination. Yet we couldn't do it without the support and encouragement of the New England Patriots and our local youth football organizations, and for that we are deeply grateful."
King Philip Youth Football, in conjunction with the Wrentham Developmental Center, has been helping SOMA plan and run prototype football/cheerleading events for the past five years. During the Football Skill Stations component of the Nov. 14 event, King Philip Youth Football coaches and players will help participants learn the correct form and skills at stations including distance/accuracy passing, place kicking, punting and a fun running obstacle course. Those interested in cheerleading will join King Philip Youth Football Cheerleaders for instruction and practice, with a cheerleading demonstration taking place at 12:30 p.m. The Unified 5-on-5 Flag Football Game will feature 34 teams on 5 fields playing two games each, officiated according to SOMA's Flag Football Rules by volunteer referees from local schools and youth football leagues.
More information about the November 14 event is available by contacting SOMA's Megan Hoffman at 508-821-3635 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation is the non-profit organization established by the Kraft family in 1994 to support charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England. This support comes in the form of direct grants and the donation of signed memorabilia to charitable causes, and from Patriots players who offer their direct support by appearing at charity functions throughout the year. The Foundation's primary goal is to support programs that aid the youth and families of the New England region by assisting programs that foster cultural diversity, education, family and health. The Foundation has taken special interest in youth programs that encourage education, creativity and development of character.
About Special Olympics Massachusetts
Special Olympics Massachusetts promotes year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programming for more than 13,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities. Through the power of sport, the movement improves the health, fitness and overall lives of people with intellectual disabilities. It also unites everyone by fostering a sense of community and building a civil society. More information is available at www.specialolympicsma.org or www.specialolympicsma.org/south.