Special Olympics GB was on hand to support their counterpart athletes from Brazil in Rio this week to create a once in a lifetime opportunity for a group of local footballers with learning disabilities.

Special Olympics GB, the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, facilitated with The FA the chance for 10 Brazilian footballers with learning disabilities the chance to watch the England team in training prior to the World Cup.


The event was supported and activated on the ground by Special Olympics GB thanks to the support of the Premier League.

It took place at England training base in Rio de Janeiro on Monday (9th June 2014) just days before England’s opening game against Italy. 

Ana Paula Soares, National Director for Special Olympics Brasil, commented: “When I told our ten players they would be watching and meeting the England World Cup squad in Rio they quite literally couldn’t sleep.

“This amazing experience was all thanks to our friends at Special Olympics GB who were supported by the Premier League to facilitate and activate this opportunity.”

Chris Hull at Special Olympics GB said: “The Premier League gave us the chance to reach out to our colleagues in Brazil and implement this opportunity on the ground with the England team in Rio for these athletes with learning disabilities.

“Almost 1.2 million people in the UK, almost 2% of the population, have an intellectual disability.  In this country, Special Olympics Great Britain serves over 8,000 registered athletes annually through almost 150 volunteer-led local clubs and 19 regions.

“Special Olympics GB is a registered charity and receives no central funding, so support like this from the Premier League is essential to conduct the charity’s good work.

“I would also like to thank Adrian Bevington, Joanne Budd and Maria de Leon at The FA for their kindness and allowing us to bring this number of Special Olympics athletes to see the England squad in action ahead of the World Cup.”

Barçelona star and Special Olympics Ambassador Dani Alves also held a coaching clinic for athletes with learning disabilities this week in Barçelona and talked about his passion for the charity.  Alves said: “We are all equal on the playing field.”

The list of Special Olympics Brazil players at the England event was as follows:

Alanderson L. dos Santos 26 attacking midfielder
Jeferson Silva Barboza 34 defensive midfielder
Jeferson Silva Pauferro 18 centre-back
João Rafael O.Bento 35 left-back
Fabrício Teles de Oliveira 18 forward
John Lucas B. da Silva 16 right-back
Luis Carlos S. de Araújo 27 attacker
Rafael S. de Almeida 21 goalkeeper
Romulo da Silva Gomes 23 defensive midfielder
Rogério Gonçalves Pinto


attacking midfielder