FRISCO- FC Dallas faces the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, September 1st for their third and final leg of the Texas Derby but, as soon as the final whistle blows, get ready to cheer even louder. The 2018 FC Dallas Special Olympics team, supported by Globe Life, will be hosting the Houston Dynamo Unified Team and closing out their season here at home in the Toyota Stadium.
The FC Dallas Special Olympics team, traveled out to New York to play against the New York Red Bulls on June 23rd earning a 1-1 draw. Now as they face off Dynamos Unified Team, let us remember that these two teams are no strangers to each other. In fact, they where united to represent "Team Texas" at the Unified Cup in Chicago, Illinois. For players like Alex Ortiz this is a match where the first teams rivalry rubs off.
“Yes, for Alex it has been an on-going conversation between us. It is like a rivalry between them because at the big tournament at Chicago they had the team that was made up from players of Dallas and Houston," said Martin Ortiz, father of Alex. "So, that was the big talk when they were training together, that they where going to meet up later on in the year and Alex has been saying: "Man they are going to know how we play now, we are going to have to change the way we play."
This match goes far beyond what meets the eye. Not just in terms of the rivalry between these two teams but, the importance of having the Special Olympics program whose purpose is to unite those with and without intelectual disabilities to play the sport of soccer as one.
"It's important in different ways because people that know Alex are coming out to support him and it opens up peoples eyes about the Special Olympics program," said Martin Ortiz. "It opens up the eyes to other people about the opportunity the athletes with disabilities have, the opportunities that they have playing and in people knowing what this organization does for the Special Olympics team."
For Alex Ortiz who has been a part of the team for two years now, this experience helps him physically and mentally.
"It's fun, I keep running and my dad keeps training me a lot," mentioned Alex. "My favorite part about training is that it keeps me in shape. Also, Paxton one time something happened and he told me to keep going. I started slowing down, I thought I got hurt but he told me to keep going. So I did, he's my favorite player."
If you happen to spot Alex smiling and giving that extra push for the FC Dallas Special Olympics Team, there is definitely a reason why and it is a person so dear to his heart.
"I am doing this for my grandpa and my nana. When I was younger, he passed away, I am doing it so he can see me," mentioned Alex.
"When I was younger my dad used to watch my son a lot when I had to work," said Martin. "So, Alex never got the chance to play while my dad was alive. In a way that is important to him is that he feels like my dad is watching him play when he is in the stadiums. So just him to be able to say the things he has experienced, a little bit more than I have, is pretty cool to see that as a dad and him soaking it in."