Invitational competitions are locally-based competitions organized by teams and delegations. These invitationals will typically feature traditional sports like basketball, bocce, flag football, but teams can get creative with the activities offered. Does your team want to host a multi-team beanbag tournament? Go for it!

The benefit of invitationals is that teams can offer more local competitive opportunities for their athletes.

Although invitationals are generally organized by teams and delegations, the state office will be there to support teams every step of the way. We’ll teach key volunteers and coaches how to division, find volunteers, and run competitions. From signage to opening ceremonies scripts, we have plenty of resources available–we’re here to help!

How do I host an Invitational?

1. Decide what activity you want to host.

Examples include:

  • Two-team scrimmage- an informal game between two teams, used to prepare for an upcoming competition
  • Multi-team invitational- tournament style, can be for traditional or recreation sports
  • Individual sport meet- events that individuals compete against one another (i.e. swimming, track)
  • Recreational field day- various skills stations set up for participants to try new sports and practice skills

Once you’ve chosen an activity, it’s time to start practicing! Athletes should complete at least 4 hours of practice prior to the event.

2. Submit paperwork.

We ask that the team’s Head of Delegation or coach or a community organization (e.g., Jaycees) submits an application for the event. Depending on the kind of activity you choose, different levels of support, funding and requirements will apply. We also ask that you submit attendance records.

3. Organize the event.

Here are a few things that you’ll be responsible for as you manage your event.

  • Act as the event point of contact.
  • Reserve facilities.
  • Recruit teams and athletes to register and attend event. The SOMN state office can provide a contact list of local delegations.
  • Recruit volunteers if needed. The SOMN state office can provide an online volunteer registration system. For liability purposes, volunteers must sign in on site the day of the event.
  • Train volunteers at event.
  • Day-of set up and tear down.
  • Manage awards logistics, including ordering. Order must be submitted by deadline. Special Olympics-branded ribbons cost $0.25 per ribbon and must be ordered through your SOMN staff contact.
  • Division and schedule competition. The SOMN state office can provide training and templates.
  • Submit incident reports, in the unfortunate event that they’re necessary. Since this is a Special Olympics event, safety should be of utmost concern. Any incidents that occurs during the event must be formally submitted to the SOMN state office.

4. Host the event.

It’s time to get out on the field! All your planning will come together in a competition or activity that provides Special Olympics athletes with a chance to showcase their skills, get moving and spend time with friends. This is what it’s all about!


Possibilities include:

  • Liability insurance for registered participants who have up-to-date paperwork
  • Blank brackets and heat sheet report templates
  • A list of local delegations (to help event host find teams/participants)
  • An Event Liaison may be able to attend your event.
  • Scholarship funding may be available.

SOMN Event Liaisons are trained consultants who ensure that registration, rules and policies are being followed. They will be the point of contact for the event host and are empowered to work with the SOMN state office if necessary. Event Liaisons have experience with and skills in sports and tournament management as well as Special Olympics policies and rules. They can act as a repository of knowledge during events and can assist with major issues that arise, but are not available to run or manage the event.

The host team, group or individual is responsible for expenses. If a delegation is hosting, the delegation’s Centralized Account can be used to pay for Invitational expenses. Scholarships are available as needed, but the application must be submitted at least one month in advance.

No. However, scholarships can be used for the cost of the facilities, referees and awards–contact [email protected] for more information.