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Our Coaches

Floor hockey players in South Africa gather round their coach for a strategy session before a tournament held near Johannesburg. Photo by Will Schermerhorn

Was there a mentor, teacher or coach who made a difference in your life? The one who gave you the courage and determination to strive to be your best? The one who helped shape both your performance and your character? You can be that important person in someone else’s life.

Become a Coach

To become a coach, get in touch with Special Olympics near you.

More Than a Coach

Coaches teach the skills and spirit that define a true athlete. Coaches are role models and character-builders.

Special Olympics coaches go even further -- they help athletes with intellectual disabilities find their own strengths and abilities. They also show them how to build upon those strengths and improve every day.

As a Special Olympics coach, you bring enthusiasm, commitment and a positive attitude to each practice, event and competition. You will enrich the lives of our athletes in many life-changing ways. The skills and confidence an athlete learns through sports have a long and lasting effect. They can help an athlete succeed in school or even find a job.

Coaches also get a lot in return. They get to know athletes who inspire -- athletes who are brave and determined, despite the odds against them.  Coaches become more than teachers, mentors and role models -- they are seen as leaders in the community.  


About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More

Coaching Excellence

Special Olympics is committed to coaching excellence -- because it benefits both coaches and athletes at the same time. In a supportive learning environment, coaches work to enhance athletes’ sport techniques, tactics and fitness.

We partner with sports organizations to provide the highest and most up-to-date level of coaching knowledge. 

Coaching education helps our coaches recognize each athlete’s potential. It also comes into play as we increase training and competition. Those opportunities help each athlete can reach -- or exceed -- their personal best.

Special Olympics focuses on our athletes. 

Our coaches aim high and take pride in their athletes' achievements, which can often be life-changing moments. 


Stories About Our Coaches


December 19, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Ireland

Athlete Turned Coach and Referee

By Caroline O'Mahony

Special Olympics Ireland athlete, coach and referee George Fitzgerald featured with his Waterford Special Olympics Club during the Munster Regional Advancement event in 2017.

George Fitzgerald (35) of Co. Waterford is no stranger to competition. A member of Waterford Special Olympics Club, he represented Ireland in the 2013 PyeongChang Games, won bronze at the 2010 European Games and travelled to the Austria 2017 Games as the captain of the Irish floorball team. Having pView Story George Fitzgerald (35) of Co. Waterford is no stranger to competition. A member of Waterford Special Olympics Club, he represented Ireland in the 2013 PyeongChang Games, won bronze at the 2010 European Games and travelled to the Austria 2017 Games as the captain of the Irish floorball team. Having played basketball for Waterford Club since 2003, George has now qualified as a coach and a referee through Basketball Ireland, the national governing body for basketball in Ireland. He currently coaches his club and recently was a referee at his first non-Special Olympics game: U12 Wildcats Waterford against Berkley in Thomastown. Speaking about his latest qualifications in advance of European Basketball Week 2017, George said: “it gives me more understanding of the game itself and it is great to be involved more in so many games”. The Regional Director for Munster Region, Eóin O’Beara said “George is a naturally talented athlete and a joy to watch on the court. He is a fantastic ambassador!"

About Caroline O'Mahony:Marketing and Fundraising Executive, Special Olympics Ireland
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December 01, 2017 | Asia Pacific: Singapore

Football Coaching Development Programme organised by Special Olympics Asia Pacific in collaboration with Tottenham Hotspurs FC

By Ryan Mahindapala

Group Picture of the participants from Spectra and Grace Orchard Schools.

Singapore hosted Module 1 of the Special Olympics Asia- Pacific Football Coach development programme organised in collaboration with Tottenham Hotspurs FC. Held at Spectra Secondary School from 28th-30th October 2017, the programme brought participants from all over the Asia- Pacific region for a fuView Story Singapore hosted Module 1 of the Special Olympics Asia- Pacific Football Coach development programme organised in collaboration with Tottenham Hotspurs FC. Held at Spectra Secondary School from 28th-30th October 2017, the programme brought participants from all over the Asia- Pacific region for a fun and highly educational course designed to help volunteer coaches define their coaching philosophy and reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses as coaches. The programme also aimed to equip coaches with the knowledge and finer points needed to coach Football for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Participants were taught how to plan and execute training sessions that are enjoyable, holistic and inclusive. Coaches are advocates for unification and play a key role in helping people with intellectual disabilities. The programme culminated on the third day in an inclusive training session and friendly game organised by the coaches for students from Spectra and Grace Orchard School.

About Ryan Mahindapala:I am a volunteer football coach with SO Singapore and has the passion to help individuals with intellectual disabilities. I am a law graduate working towards earning his practicing certificate and is someone who strives to put his best foot forward to be an advocate for causes that have a wide positive impact on society.
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December 01, 2017 | Africa: South Africa

Special Olympics SA ambassador and Banyana Banyana Interim coach Desiree Ellis wins Sports Minister’s Excellence Award at the 2017 Sports Awards

By Nomthandazo Dladla

Desiree Ellis receiving her award.

Ambassadors play a huge role in our organisation and we appreciate their constant support towards the athletes of Special Olympics South Africa. We would like to congratulate our very own ambassador and Interim coach for Banyana Banyana, DESIREE ELLIS who was awarded during the 12th annual SA SportsView Story Ambassadors play a huge role in our organisation and we appreciate their constant support towards the athletes of Special Olympics South Africa. We would like to congratulate our very own ambassador and Interim coach for Banyana Banyana, DESIREE ELLIS who was awarded during the 12th annual SA Sports Awards, for the Sports Minister’s Excellence Award. Desiree Ellis made history in September by becoming the first South African to win the COSAFA Women’s Championship as a player and coach. We are extremely excited and proud to have you as a apart of our Special Olympics South Africa family Coach! We wish you all the best for the future!

About Nomthandazo Dladla:I'm a Journalist for Special Olympics South Africa
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December 01, 2017 | North America: Southern California

Ducks on Three 1 2 3 Ducks

By Paige

I am a basketball coach. My name is coach Paige. I love my Pasadena ducks. I love all our basketball tournaments this year. I love the Pasadena basketball tournament. I love the whitter college basketball tournament I love the inland empire basketball tournamentView Story I am a basketball coach. My name is coach Paige. I love my Pasadena ducks. I love all our basketball tournaments this year. I love the Pasadena basketball tournament. I love the whitter college basketball tournament I love the inland empire basketball tournament. and I love the summer games in cal state long beach.I love our end of the year pot luck in temple city.

About Paige:I just won a basketball trophy!
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November 06, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Hellas (Greece)

THE DREAM COME TRUE

By Nikolas Koukoulakis

Image of athlete Nikolas Koukoulakis.

I have been a weightlifting athlete since I was 13 years old. Ever since then, my dream was to become a weightlifting coach. I wanted to join University of Physical Education and Sports Science through the competition but I failed due to an accident on my back.View Story I have been a weightlifting athlete since I was 13 years old. Ever since then, my dream was to become a weightlifting coach. I wanted to join University of Physical Education and Sports Science through the competition but I failed due to an accident on my back. At the age of 29 I got non hodgkin's lymphoma stage 4 with metastasis in bones and colon. After chemotherapy and brain radiation I got Parkinson's disease. I joined University of Sports at the age of 40 years old. I finished with specialty in weightlifting and biology of sports. I became power lifting coach at Special Olympics Hellas, I also participate in power lifting competitions at master category having the world record in GPA-IPO at the position of dead lift with 160 kgm at 67,5 kgm body weight. I wish my condition with Parkinson will be ok so I can be with my athletes in Abu Dhabi at the World Games in 2019. I believe that a coach must be an example for his athletes. That's what I am trying to be.

About Nikolas Koukoulakis:Nikolas Koukoulakis is a Special Olympics athlete from Greece.
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October 30, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Ireland

Floorball Coaches Meet in Dublin

By Colin Kenny

Floorball coaches learn how to apply performance analysis to their coaching systems during the workshop.

As floorball’s popularity grows every day in our movement across the globe, Dublin played host to a unique Special Olympics Floorball coaching seminar. Funded through the kind support of the European Union, the seminar took place at the Dublin National Sports Campus and was facilitated by Performa SView Story As floorball’s popularity grows every day in our movement across the globe, Dublin played host to a unique Special Olympics Floorball coaching seminar. Funded through the kind support of the European Union, the seminar took place at the Dublin National Sports Campus and was facilitated by Performa Sports who provide software for coaches to analyze their team’s performances. Some of the athletes from the Special Olympic Ireland Floorball team who went to Austria World Games also joined the session to share their experiences. The seminar was very enthusiastically received by all coaches. Kennet Rosén from Special Olympics Sweden said that “it was a very interesting weekend. It was great to talk with the other coaches on the seminar and to get their inputs.” All coaches will get to use the Performa Sports app for a trial period and some key recommendations will be made about how technology can be used by coaches afterward to in turn boost the skills of our athletes. Exciting times ahead!

About Colin Kenny:Corporate Development Executive, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia
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October 13, 2017 | Middle East North Africa: Egypt

First female coaches training in the MENA region!

By Noha Gaballah

Coaches and participants pose for a picture

Special Olympics Egypt held the first female coaches training in football in Alexandria under the auspices of the Ministry of youth and sports and in partnership with the premier league. The premier skills program promotes the coaching, English language skills and train coaches & referees how to useView Story Special Olympics Egypt held the first female coaches training in football in Alexandria under the auspices of the Ministry of youth and sports and in partnership with the premier league. The premier skills program promotes the coaching, English language skills and train coaches & referees how to use football to bring positivity to their communities through the power of football.Fifty Female coaches from different governorates were trained as SO Egypt program aim to increase the pool of female coaches in Egypt in preparation of the Special Olympics MENA First Unified Female Football cup that will be held in December 2017.

About Noha Gaballah:Special Olympics Middle East / North Africa Communications Manager
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