How about this as a challenge for Newcastle: Let’s fill the stadium.

Be Inspired: Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific, hosted by the greater Newcastle region.

To represent Australia in any event be it chess, cricket, debating or as a representative at the 2013 Asia Pacific Special Olympics, is an honour that will follow an individual through life. The greater Newcastle region, including Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie and the lower Hunter are the ideal hosts for Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific. There will be over 2500 athletes and their carers from 31 nations, who will compete across 9 sports. Each sport will have various divisions. 

Kit the Koala, Official Mascot of the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games with volunteers. Used with permission, Sundance Photography Group.

When speaking to Educational Experience, Games Director Chris Heverin highlighted the fact that this is an international event. ‘In terms of international events, the Commonwealth Games involves 71 nations. The Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific will have 31 nations involved. It is a massive event.’ The games motto of ‘Reach Your Personal Best’ will see tiny nations like Timor Leste, American Samoa and Brunei compete alongside some of the largest including India, China and Indonesia. Mr Heverin added, ‘This is an important aspect of the Games. It has been embraced by the whole Asia Pacific area. It really will put Newcastle on the map in terms of hosting international events.’ Australia will have one of the largest teams with over 400 athletes involved.

A unique challenge exists for this sporting mad region: to fill Hunter Stadium for the Opening Ceremony. ‘We have 30000 seats to fill. We want that stadium beaming with colour,’ said Mr Heverin. The Opening Ceremony takes place on December 1st. The Games organisers are encouraging all local schools to get involved. ‘We have venues in Port Stephens, the Hunter, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter that will be free for all spectators.’ While the Opening Ceremony is the only event the public will require a ticket, the prices are highly affordable, as low as $10 for a seat. ‘The entertainment planned is world class. People of Newcastle will never get to be involved in an international event for such a price.’ 


The Opening Ceremony Entertainment: (Left to right) John Foreman with Anthony Callea, Darren Percival, Marina Prior and Brooke McClymont.

Photo: Andrew Monger.

For schools there is a special challenge. ‘When purchasing tickets,’ Mr Heverin said, ‘schools can be allocated an area, they can really own a whole section of the stadium with all the kids in school uniform. We really see this as a community event for all schools to be involved in.’ Soon, all schools in the region will be invited to events to attend. ‘All sporting events will be free,’ said Mr Heverin. All events take place from 30th November to the 7th December.

Significantly, coming on the heels of its men’s cricket team qualifying for the 2013 Cricket World Cup, Afghanistan will send a team to compete in this year's Special Olympics. Having only held its first Special Olympics National Games in 2005, the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific will be an exceptional moment for the war torn country.

With so many nations coming together, a special Healthy Athlete Program will feature. ‘This is a unique feature of the Special Olympics around the world,’ said Mr Heverin. ‘We have a wonderful group of volunteers and health professionals ready to assess athletes’ health.’ Coordinated by Hunter health professionals, the Healthy Athlete Program will bring together health professionals from around Australia and the world. 

Games Ambassador and International Basketball star Lauren Jackson with members of the Australian Special Olympics Team at Hunter Stadium.

Photo: Newcastle SOAPG.

Educational Experience could not be prouder to offer our support to all the participants. The Games are a unique chance for our region to shine, so let’s fill the stadium.

To purchase Opening Ceremony tickets: