Cyril Griffith from Special21 was recognised for his commitment and dedication in supporting Down Syndrome athletes
December 1, 2022 saw the 39th anniversary celebrations of Futebol Clube de Ferreiras (FCF) at the Monte das Oliveiras Restaurant, in Ataboeira/Guia.
The event was attended by many dignitaries including Albufeira’s vice president Cristiano Cabrita, responsible for the area of Sport and Youth, and Custódio Moreno, the regional director of the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IPDJ).
Welcoming guest and members, President of FCF António Colaço spoke about the success of the club’s various sections, including the football, swimming, Triathlon and Figure Roller Skating and the part they play in the community.
Mr. Colaço said he was extremely proud to praise the success of the recent Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO) World Championships held in Albufeira.
The championships were the idea of the Special21 project some five years ago, led by their founders Sónia Demétrio, director of swimming at FCF, and Cyril Griffith.
Special21 is an Algarve-based group who are challenging the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) to recognise Down Syndrome athletes “for what they are, both physically and intellectually disabled individuals, therefore with dual impairments, whereas today, entry to the Paralympic Games is restricted to single impairment”.
The World Championships were seen as an opportunity to ‘shine a light’ on this issue in front of a global audience.
In recognition for his commitment and dedication in supporting Down Syndrome athletes, Mr. Colaço presented Cyril Griffith with a Diploma de Agradecimento (thank you certificate).
Mr. Griffith thanked António Colaço, Cristiano Cabrita and Sónia Demétrio for supporting the Special21 project, which includes the weekly ‘Learn to Swim’ programme, where local adapted schoolchildren from five schools in Albufeira are given the opportunity to learn how to swim.
“These swimmers are potentially the future Paralympic athletes,” said Griffith.
Special21 has now gained global recognition and is engaged with the IPC and the Virtus organisation and Mr Griffith believes its goal is now within sight.