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GHS junior to play soccer on US team in Abu Dhabi

GHS junior to play soccer in Abu Dhabi. A Grandview High School soccer player will soon be playing on the world stage. On March 14, GHS junior Joel Granados will help represent the United States during the Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Granados, and teammate Jonathan Cabildo, were scouted for the high caliber team at the Special Olympics Unified soccer state tournament last spring. The two were spotted by a coach from Seattle University, who also coaches for the World Games. Granados and Cabildo were invited to try out for the U.S. team in late July/early August in Seattle.

Granados made it to try-outs, where they had him do some drills - passing, running and a scrimmage. He was selected for the team and had the opportunity to participate in a week-long soccer camp in Delaware. Due to personal reasons, Cabildo was unable to attend try-outs, but was still invited to join the team as an alternate based on his performance at the Unified Soccer State tournament last season. Cabildo will not get an opportunity to travel with the team.

The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games is a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement. It is being held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from March 14–21. Special Olympics is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement which focuses on the empowerment of people of determination with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport.

Granados started his journey to Abu Dhabi on March 5. The team, a Washington delegation representing the United States, flew from Seattle to Newark to Abu Dhabi. The team arrived in Abu Dhabi on March 7, with full gear, travel, room and food as part of their team honors.

“I’m excited to see the tallest skyscraper,” Granados said before he left.

On the field, Granados and his team will be playing 11-on-11 soccer with college-aged kids, which is different than the 5-on-5 soccer they play on smaller fields in high school Unified soccer. This is a masters’ level team that will be playing on a full-sized field.

Granados said he’s excited to be able to play a sport he’s been playing since he was in elementary school, while also exploring a different culture.

Anyone interested in watching the game and following along with the action can follow Special Olympics Washington on Facebook for updates or download the Special Olympics World Games app. Several of the games will also be featured on ESPN.

- Story and photo by Brittnee Sanchez, Grandview Herald