OKLAHOMA CITY - Special Olympics athletes and professional soccer players are teaming up in Soccer City.
"The Special Olympic athletes will actually sign a contract and they'll actually become part of the roster of the team," Meg Corn, development director of Special Olympics Oklahoma, said.
Organizers say 18 young Oklahoma athletes will be honored with Energy shirts as they become part of 'The Energy Sidekicks.'
"They're in the sporting program, but this gives them the opportunity to be with a pro team and, you know, do things they never thought they could do," Corn said.
It's also a way for the new Energy FC soccer team to introduce the sport to children with disabilities.
"This is really a game for everyone and this is really a way of bringing that out and make sure everyone gets to experience the game," Jason Hawkins, Energy FC general manager, said.
A new set of Special Olympics and Top Soccer athletes will be matched with Energy players every year through an application process.
They will learn how to play soccer from the pros and also become a buddy outside of the stadium.
"Players are really what's cool, so we really see that as that neat asset we have in our tool kit," Hawkins said.
"I've watched relationships grow from this. I mean, I know from past programs we've had, they take them to lunch. They go see their family. They go to graduations, so it's not just the nights we're here,” Corn said.
A win for young athletes and a goal for the pro team to connect with the community.
The Energy Sidekicks program kicks off Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Soccer City in the metro.
It's free and open to the public.