Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program is gearing up to add power soccer to its roster of teams for people with disabilities. It will join more than 250 teams from around the world competing in one of the fastest-growing sports on four wheels.
Power soccer is the first competitive team sport designed for power wheelchair users, according to the United States Power Soccer Association. Last year, WAS offered power soccer classes to determine interest, said sports coordinator Jeovani Pantoja.
“It’s important to offer more sports and opportunities for people with disabilities to strengthen the body mentally and physically,” Jeo said.
WAS plans to create a recreational team this fall that will begin competing during the power soccer season, which runs from September through March. Anyone who uses a power wheelchair and can operate it safely is eligible to play. Participants include people who have quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities.
“Our goal is to eventually offer a competitive team, too,” Jeo said.
Two teams of four players play two 20-minute periods on a regulation-sized basketball court, using an oversized soccer ball. Players use their own power wheelchair that must be equipped with a footguard.
“Our biggest issue is equipment,” Jeo said. “We’re currently using plastic guards, but to compete we need steel guards that won’t break for safety reasons.”
WAS received a grant from the Grand Rapids Jaycees Foundation and will purchase the equipment soon. Plans are in the works to offer a clinic this spring. Email email@example.com for more information.