THE Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD) football team returned home with a silver medal yesterday from the annual Special Olympics Borneo Cup 5-a-side football tournament in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Prior to their departure for the Dec 12-15 competition, the head of the 11-member delegation, Noel Mendiola, had told The Brunei Times that they were aiming for a podium finish once again this year after finishing
second the previous year. The tournament, held for Special Olympics athletes from all over Borneo, was to feature 16 teams from Brunei, Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak but ended up with only eight sides divided into two groups.
"We were a bit disappointed that we only had three games to play without having any final to compete in. But in the end it didn't really matter because initially we were aiming for at least a medal and we got it," said Mendiola yesterday.
"This year's format was different as the teams had to go through a six-minute assessment to determine their abilities before being divided into two groups," added the Filipino.
The eight-member team, coached by Hj Wahid Ismail and Hj Hamdan Ajak, made up of Nizam Zulhelmi Hj Hussin Shah, Mohd Hadi Zulhelmi Nirawan, Norizan Mohd Noor, Md Nadihie Hj Abas, Md Firdaus Mazlan, Shahrin Hj Karim, Mohd Shafie HJ Mohamed Nafiah and Abd Aziz Husaini were drawn in Group A with Sabah, North Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.
Brunei won their first game with a 6-1 thrashing of South Kalimantan, but fell in their second match against North Kalimantan losing 2-1.
Their third game saw them defeat Sabah 5-1 to clinch the silver.
North Kalimantan took the gold after sweeping the group.
"The kids showed what they were capable of in the final game. They knew they couldn't get the gold after losing to North Kalimantan but they kept their focus as they wanted to at least get the silver. The result was a 5-1 victory," said Mendiola.
The head of delegation, however, pointed out that the silver was not their only objective.
"The best thing about the competition is that it provides those with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to be involved in sports," concluded Mendiola.
The next edition of the tournament to be held biennially starting 2011 will be hosted by the Sultanate.The next edition of the tournament to be held biennially starting 2011 will be hosted by the Sultanate.
Courtesy from Brunei Times