THE partnership between Leeds FC and the Cope Foundation has gone from strength to strength in the past few years.
This year has been a special one as both their teams won the Division One and Division Three Special Olympic Munster Cups respectively, at the Munster Technological University recently.
The Division One team beat Waterford 6-2 in the first game and then went on to beat Ballincollig 4-2 in the final with goals coming from Jamie Wallace, Ryan and Adam Sewel and Micheal Cummins.
The Division Three team beat Kerry, Mallow and Waterford en route to lifting their trophy.
The Cope soccer players joined the Leeds club five years under the guidance of German native Dominique Wehrkamp.
Both teams train together every Wednesday at the Sproi on the Cope Foundation grounds.
For Dominique, this was a great opportunity to get involved with the athletes when he started work with Cope in 2017.
The popular manager Dominique was delighted with all his players and he explained what it meant to everyone of them after the games.
“I am so happy for the players today because they worked so hard in the last few years to get were they are today,” Dominique said.
“I came over from Germany in 2005 and worked in Tralee for a few years.
"I then moved to Cork in 2017 to work with the Cope Foundation in Montenotte.
"It didn’t take me long to get involved with the boys with the soccer team as I really love football.
"The boys are great and very dedicated and we have so much fun when are together.
“The Leeds club have being brilliant to us over the years, and all the players are affiliated with the club now in vicarious roles.
"I also would like to thank all the members of the Leeds club on the way they received us into their club, it gave the boys a lot of confidence,” Wehrkamp added.
James Fogarty, the senior manager at Leeds got two new sets of gear for the Special Olympics event.
All players had their own personal names of the back on the jerseys which caused huge excitement at the MTU grounds before the games when they saw their new gear.
“The club decided to get the lads new gear for their tournament with their names on the back of the jerseys," Jason said.
“We couldn’t wait to see their faces when they received the gear, it was like they were playing their own Champions Trophy.
"Just to see the excitement on their faces told its own story as they were buzzing and to be honest, I wasn’t a bit surprised that they won the tournament because they work so hard and have a superb attitude," Jason added.
The event was run by the Munster Special Olympics Branch at the superb Munster Technological University grounds.
The event was sponsored by Janssen and they had plenty of volunteers helping out on the day.
Also all the athletes were graded to see if they make the next phase of the Irish Special Olympic team that will play at the World Games in Berlin, Germany.
The Director of the Munster Special Olympic Branch Eoin O’Beara was delighted the way the event played out and he took time out to thank everyone who helped on the day.
“First of all, I would to thank our sponsors Janssen for their continued help in all our events.
"I also would like to thank our own members and the Janssen volunteers because only for them, events like these couldn’t take place,” Eoin said.
“To see all the athletes here today gives me huge satisfaction as you can just see all the excitement on everyone’s faces.
"To all these players and managers you can see all the work they done on the training grounds as the standard is quite high.
“After the frustrations and disappointment of the last two years over the Covid pandemic it is wonderful to see so many happy people here today.
“Some of the athletes will receive their International Caps today from the Irish management team and they will be presented to them just before the Cup presentation.
"The athletes will also be graded to see who will represent Ireland at the World Games in Berlin later this year," Eoin added.
Congratulations to the Leeds/Cope teams that won their relevant cup competitions.
The victorious Division One team that played consisted of Jamie Wallace, Tommy Lynch, Shane Cattetson, Micheal Cummins, Shane O’Neill, Ryan Sewel, Chrystoph Cygan, Adam Sewel, Thomas O’Herlihy, Sean Murphy, David Dunlea and Stephen O’Leary.
The Division Three players were Shane Catterson, Alex Farmer, Kevin Russell, Lee Farmer and Darren O’Riordan.
Congratulations to three of the players Cope team, Thomas O’Herlihy, Stephen O’Leary, and David Dunlea as they presented with their International caps at the presentation ceremony.
Also congratulations to everyone who attended and helped out at the event.