The Special Olympics New Zealand (SONZ) Futsal World Cup final kicked off in Napier on Wednesday.
For the second year, Central Football Hawke's Bay organised the tournament for special needs high school students across Hawke's Bay.
This local event is best described as a "mock" world cup.
Central football special projects manager John McGifford said, "this year we only three schools participating," and because the low number of teams signed up meant no countries were assigned to teams this year.
McGifford attributes the low numbers to Covid-related concerns and issues.
After weeks of tournament games with high schools' teams participating, Taradale High and Havelock North High met at Pettigrew Green Arena on Wednesday for the grand final.
Havelock North High School won the final, but everyone walked away from the experience with big medals around their neck and even bigger smiles on their face.
The joy the kids bring to the game and the excitement and smiles after the game are reasons McGifford enjoys running the project.
Central Football partnered with Special Olympics New Zealand and Unison to get more involved in the diversity and inclusion space, giving kids with special needs a chance to experience new sports such as football.
Taradale High School student Jack McMillan is one of those who had a chance to experience futsal this year.
"I really liked scoring the goals," he said.
McMillan has a competitive edge and is an all-around athlete. This year, he has participated in the Special Olympic New Zealand swimming competitions and joined the high school basketball team.
Enjoying the chance to join in, he's willing to try any sport at least once, saying, "next year I want to play rugby or touch."
The tournament was more of an interschool competition this year.
Next year Central Football wants to roll out the SONZ futsal world cup across five regions including Hawke's Bay, Manawatū, Whanganui, Taranaki and Tairāwhiti Gisborne.
"Unison Networks have been hugely supportive of so many sports across Hawke's Bay and We are extremely grateful to them for choosing to support this event."
A spokesman for Unison Networks, Jayden Falcon, said, "We are thrilled to be able to support this event, it is an awesome opportunity for people with special needs to take part in something new, enjoy themselves while being active and to meet new people".