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Unified football team mixed special needs athletes competing alongside those without

For over 50 years the Special Olympics has provided opportunities for intellectually disabled athletes to compete.

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Seven Sharp’s Mike Thorpe met with the New Zealand Special Olympics unified football side. Source: Seven Sharp

In its 51st year the push is for unified sports.

That means bringing together competitors with special needs - with those from the mainstream, and forming one super inclusive team.

Seven Sharp went to meet the New Zealand Special Olympics unified football side.

"Unified sport is really important because it gives people that don't have an intellectual disability time to spend with somebody and understand what it takes to connect with them," CEO of Special Olympics NZ Carolyn Young says.

Frank Walmsley is what is termed a unified partner.

"We go out there and play with the athletes as part of the team. So, we're not there to be on field coaches. We're not there to take over. We're there to play with the team, be part of the team.

"Make sure that everybody's getting passed to, keeping their heads up when they go a goal behind. Just there to support the others," he says.

Frank and the team took on the world at the Special Olympics earlier in the year where they placed fourth.