Special Olympics Gibraltar will be sending a team to participate in the Special Olympics Small Nations Football Tournament which kicks off in San Marino on the 1st September.
This is the third such 5-a-side tournament held in San Marino, having previously been called the San Marino Special Cup. After being re-launched this year to incorporate more small nations it is the first time 8 other European sides have been invited, and as a result, San Marino will welcome teams from Cyprus, Estonia, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco and Montenegro.
The squad from Gibraltar will consist of Francis Avellano, Lee Guerreiro, Darren Vinent, Gianni Ochello, Giovanni Yeo, Jeremy Prescott, Sam Hook and Daniel Macias. Head Coach Brian Fernandez will be assisted by coaches Mario Prescott and Jeremy Baldachino. Head of Delegation will be Caine Sanchez.
The team leave for San Marino on Thursday 30th August. Following an opening ceremony on the Friday night the tournament will be held over 2 days when the teams will be divided into 2 groups with gold, silver and bronze medals being awarded in each group. With sponsorship for the competition from UEFA, the guest of honour there will be former InterMilan and Lazio midfielder Dejan Stankovic who was captain of the Serbian national team until his retirement in 2011.
The Gibraltar team has been sponsored by the GFA who are covering the provision of football kit and travel costs. The GFA’s General Secretary Dennis Beiso said: “We are very proud of our continued association with Special Olympics Gibraltar and especially pleased to be able to support the football team’s participation in the San Marino Special Cup. We wish the team the very best of Gibraltarian luck and we are sure that they will again do Gibraltar proud”.
This tournament follows the exclusion of many small nations' Special Olympics football teams from the World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi next year due to over capacity and gives the small countries involved the opportunity to compete against international competition.
Special Olympics Gibraltar National Director Annie Risso said; "I am delighted with our ongoing partnership with the GFA, which is facilitating our team competing, at least once a year in an international event such as this. This invitation for the San Marino 5-a-side competition is especially warmly welcomed as 5-a-side is being replaced by 7-a-side in Special Olympics International. We look forward to more invites from other countries in this category and know that our team will do their best as they always do!"