Last week at Yukon High School, professional players from OKC’s Energy FC showed up to help further the skills of some of their favorite athletes: the Unified Soccer team. Soon to represent the state of Oklahoma in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, these high school players were met with an abundance of shin guards, soccer balls, and socks from the Greens. Rather than just hand out goodie bags, though, players from OKC’s pro soccer team helped with practice to ensure that all athletes could share their love of the sport while preparing for the Special Olympics Games.
Billy Walton, director of marketing and communications for Energy FC, said, “… [Our] players ran some of the practice to help with kicking and one-on-one drills to try and score. We were at their first practice back in July. To see the team’s progression over the past couple of months has been awesome!”
With Energy FC’s stake in the community, it’s no surprise the team was able to form meaningful connections with the Special Olympics athletes. Walton recalled his favorite moment from last week’s practice: “There was a conversation between Energy FC player Villyan Bijev and athlete Nicholas, who can be very reserved and quiet. He was wearing an anime shirt that had a character who Villyan recognized. It definitely created a bond between the two, as they both chatted throughout practice about their love of anime.”
Energy FC’s ability to spread the passion for soccer while uplifting nontraditional athletes has been an ongoing project since 2015. “Events and opportunities like these allow our team to continue to be a part of the growth of soccer in central Oklahoma,” said Walton. “It is important for our organization to show that soccer is a sport for everyone, and that it has the power to truly unite all people.”
For more information, visit energyfc.com.