In the morning of 9 July 2016 St Joseph’s College of Commerce (SJCC), Brigade Road, Bengaluru, began the day with an unusual sense of preparedness. Anxiety and excitement accompanied a group of student volunteers as they beefed up security, cordoning off the grounds which would witness a first time ever Cricket between WWE world Champion Alberto Del Rio and Special Olympics Bharat Athletes. Over that, it would also be their first ever engagement with both the organizations; Curiosity knew no bounds
20 Athletes from 4 Special Schools- Aruna Chetana, Bala Mano Vikasa Kendra, WARDS Special School and Gerizim Rehabilitation Trust, entered the grounds donning the WWE T shirts gearing up ,not to learn but to teach a few tips on swinging the bat and bowling to the WWE Champion leading to a friendly game of Cricket.
The Athletes, Coaches and Officials cheered as Alberto entered the grounds ushering him straight to the pitch. A couple of rounds of demonstration by the Athletes began under close supervision of Mr. Amarendra, State Sports Director, SO Bharat- Karnataka and Ms. Asha , Physical Education Teacher, SJCC . As the WWE Champion prepared himself to bat, the Athletes spread themselves into fielding and bowling positions. The game lasted 15-20 minutes following which the Athletes enjoyed a photo op with the star and received his autographed posters.
Rev. Dr. Daniel Fernandas, Principal, SJCC joined the celebrations joyously welcoming many more engagements with SO Bharat Athletes at his College. He appreciated the presence of a WWE Champion and his support towards the Special Olympics movement which was evident with the time he spent with the Athletes. Alberto del Rio was presented plaques and paintings by representatives of SO Bharat and SJCC
While appreciating the Special Olympics movement and thanking everyone for organizing the event Albert Del Rio said, “Meeting the Special Olympics Bharat kids was a very a humbling and inspiring experience. My time in India has indeed been very special and I will go back with a lot of memories.”
Air Marshal Denzil Keelor PVSM, KC, AVSM, VrC
“This is not for the first time that we have engaged with WWE. We have had a successful association with them and are humbled by their interest in our program. The collaboration at the global level supporting Play Unified will certainly give a boost and make our engagements regular, with each bringing in a new opportunity to spread awareness and bring recognition for our Athletes in a way that would draw attention of especially the young population”
Mr. Vasanth Kumar Shetty, Area Director, Special Olympics Bharat-Karnataka
”A celebrity like Alberto playing with the children will make people notice Special Olympics and bring it to the mainstream.”
This Program followed announcement of Special Olympics and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) international partnership to help create change through sports. The announcement was made on 27 June 2016. Through this new partnership, WWE would support Special Olympics’ Play Unified campaign, which fosters friendships, understanding, and inclusive communities among people with and without intellectual disabilities by uniting them through the power and joy of sports.
WWE Superstars would participate in Play Unified events with Special Olympics athletes from the US, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, India and Germany, utilizing its global platforms including WWE Network, television broadcasts, live events, and digital and social media to generate awareness and support for Special Olympics.
Teaming up with WWE goes over two years back. In February 2014 WWE partnered with Special Olympics Bharat (Maharashtra Chapter) to organise a State Athletic Meet at Sports Authority Ground (SAI) in Kandivali East, Mumbai with Actor Rajiv Khandelwal as chief guest along with Mr. Rukn Kizilbash, General Manager, WWE India. Big Show made a tour to Delhi, India with Mr. Carl Sequeria, deliberating over exploring opportunities where WWE and SO Bharat could join hands in future.