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It’s About Ability: Children with and without disabilities together in a game with BiH National Football Team

UNICEF and BiH Football Federation celebrated Edin Džeko’s 27th birthday with a special game on the day of BiH national team gathering ahead of the world cup qualification match against Greece on 18 March 2013. This fulfilled the wishes of Dzeko, striker of the BiH national team and UNICEF Ambassador, to celebrate his birthday with children and to highlight the sports’ abilities of children with disabilities and their often neglected needs to the attention of the general public.

"Working with children is very fulfilling and I want to use this game to show just how important sports events and physical activities are for them. My team players and I cheer for them. We hope that our message will contribute to making sports available to every child”, said Džeko. He added: “What makes me particularly happy is having children with disabilities in the team. Sport is a necessary part of their therapy and growing up. However, many of them have no such opportunity. I want us all to talk about their abilities, rather than disabilities”. Edin Džeko was born on 17. March 1986 in Sarajevo. Aged 27, he is already the best striker ever on the BiH national team and one of the players most loved by football fans across the country. 

“As we know, children with disabilities and their families are too often invisible. Their inclusion in society requires a change of perception: the recognition of children with disabilities as having rights as well as an understanding that their active presence and voice will improve society as a whole. They need to be a part, rather than apart.” – said UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Florence Bauer.

A unique game where BiH National Team played with 27 boys and girls with and without disabilities gathered around the Special Olympics under the slogan “Unite for Children – It’s about ability!”  took place on 18 March. Edin Dzeko, Asmir Begovic, Vedad Ibisevic, Senijad Ibricic, Muamer Svraka, Ognjen Vranjes, Haris Medunjanin and boxer Adnan Catic (Felix Sturm),   played for BiH National Football Team under the guidance of the manager Miralem Pjanic. Ms. Kada Delić, a well-known sportswoman and member of BiH Olympics team, lead the team of the Special Olympics. The first kick was the task of Josip Adzaip, the only BiH representative at Special Olympics 2013.

"The mission of the Special Olympics is to develop programs in the areas of health, social protection, education, rehabilitation, managing leisure time with the purpose of raising awareness about people with intellectual disabilities. Sportsmen of Special Olympics BiH participated in Summer and Winter Olympics in which they won gold, silver and bronze medals. Even more important than medals were their beliefs that sport demonstrates their ability to fully participate in our society." - stressed Kada Delic, Executive Director of the Special Olympics in BiH.

UNICEF and BiH Football Association prepared many surprises for both the players and boys and girls playing and watching the game.  Photo opportunity with BiH national team players was a special time for a get-together. At halftime show, the guests and spectators enjoyed the song “Don’t Mock Me” performed by the children’s choir of Čengić Vila primary school and interpreted into sign language. Tickets for this event were distributed to boys and girls participating in the Special Olympics, youth football clubs and football schools.



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