Gaming, once seen as mere entertainment, has evolved into a powerful force that transcends boundaries and brings people together. In a heartwarming encounter, two Special Olympics UAE athletes, Dana Al Mansoori and Abdulla Al Diwani, shared their passion for gaming with global esports professionals at the BLAST Premier World Final 2023 in Abu Dhabi. This article delves into their inspiring stories, and the profound impact gaming has had on their lives while shedding light on the remarkable mission of Special Olympics UAE.
The Unlikely Meeting
A unique meeting took place in the bustling arena of the BLAST Premier World Final 2023, where gaming champions battled for glory. Dana Al Mansoori, a 19-year-old athlete representing the UAE’s football and cycling teams, and her teammate Abdulla Al Diwani, aged 17, who excels in cycling and basketball, found themselves in the company of esports stars. Their stories unfolded during a captivating conversation broadcasted from the iconic Etihad Arena.
Special Olympics UAE: Empowering Determination through Sports
Before diving into Dana and Abdulla’s heartwarming stories, let’s explore the noble mission of Special Olympics UAE. This organization is dedicated to empowering People of Determination with intellectual and developmental disabilities through sports. It provides them with opportunities to showcase their talents and strives to integrate them into mainstream society.
Dana Al Mansoori: Gaming as Therapy
Gaming in the Family
Dana Al Mansoori, a rising star in the UAE’s sports scene with over 10 medals, opened up about her deep connection with gaming. She revealed, “I come from a gaming family, and everyone has played games at some point.” Gaming wasn’t just a pastime for Dana; it was her therapy.
A Therapeutic Escape
In her own words, Dana expressed, “Gaming for me is my therapy. I don’t need to go to therapy as gaming is my therapy.” Her profound statement highlights the therapeutic value of gaming, showing how it can provide solace and a sense of belonging, especially to those facing unique challenges.
Abdulla Al Diwani: FIFA and Friendship
A Love for FIFA
Abdulla Al Diwani, with an impressive collection of over 30 medals in various sports, including cycling and basketball, shared his joy in playing his favourite game, FIFA. He emphasized, “FIFA is my favourite game, and it’s one I love because it’s a game I can play alone or with my friends.” FIFA, for Abdulla, is more than just a game; it’s a source of connection and enjoyment.
Special Olympics Athletes at BLAST Premier World Final
Dana Al Mansoori, Abdulla Al Diwani, and other Special Olympics athletes also had the privilege of attending the grand finale of the BLAST Premier World Final. They joined thousands of spectators to witness the epic showdown between Faze Clan and Team Vitality.
Fostering Inclusion Through Gaming
This marked the second consecutive year that Special Olympics UAE graced the BLAST Premier World Final with their presence. The tournament, hosted in the UAE, served as an invaluable platform to further the mission of inclusivity in gaming. With an estimated 2.7 billion players worldwide, the inclusivity movement in gaming is rapidly gaining momentum.
Andrew Haworth: Gaming Unites
Andrew Haworth, Programme Director of BLAST Premier World Final, aptly summarized the significance of this meeting. He stated, “Gaming can unite every one of all abilities wherever you are in the world.” The stories shared by Special Olympics athletes and esports stars underscore the importance of inclusion and highlight the cognitive benefits of gaming.
Inspiring Each Other
During their interaction, players and athletes found inspiration in one another’s journeys. Their stories resonated, fueling a shared passion for gaming and esports. This meeting of worlds, where determination met skill, left a lasting impact on all involved.
The Impact of Gaming on Special Olympics Athletes
Cognitive Skills Enhancement
Gaming, often dismissed as a mindless activity, has proven to enhance cognitive skills. For individuals like Dana and Abdulla, who face unique challenges, gaming provides a platform to sharpen their mental acuity and problem-solving abilities.
Gaming is a universal language that transcends physical limitations. It provides a space where individuals with disabilities can connect with the world and break down social barriers. The meeting at BLAST Premier World Final exemplifies the power of gaming to foster social inclusion.
Gaming’s Global Reach
A Worldwide Community
With 2.7 billion players worldwide, gaming has become a global phenomenon. It unites people across continents, fostering friendships and shared experiences. The stories of Dana and Abdulla are just a glimpse into the vast tapestry of the gaming community.
Growing the Ecosystem
The BLAST Premier World Final’s presence in the UAE is a testament to the growing esports ecosystem. It celebrates the best players and champions inclusivity and diversity in gaming.
In the heart of the gaming arena, where champions rise and fall, the meeting between Special Olympics athletes and esports stars transcended competition. Dana Al Mansoori and Abdulla Al Diwani found therapy, joy, and inspiration in gaming, proving that gaming truly unites hearts and minds. As the gaming community grows, let their stories remind them of the transformative power of inclusion through gaming.