Wheelchair Soccer And Power Soccer

Wheelchair soccer is a variation of soccer, where all players are wheelchair users with a physical or mental disability. The game can be played with manual or power wheelchairs. If the player is able to kick the ball, they are allowed to do this as well and if the goalie can stop the ball with his hands he can do so.

Difficulties can arise when playing the sport; players who can kick the ball are usually stronger and therefore more accurate than those who are not able to. Players who use a power wheelchair need to have a foot guard to keep the ball from rolling under the wheelchair. This article will focus on power wheelchair soccer.

Power soccer combines the skill of the wheelchair user with the speed and power of the chair itself in a challenging and competitive soccer sport.

The game is played on an indoor regulation size basketball court. Two teams of four players each use power wheelchairs equipped with foot guards to attack, defend and spin-kick a 13” soccer ball in an attempt to score goals.

Object Of The Game

Two teams of differently-abled athletes using special foot guards attached to power wheelchairs as “feet” to kick a large ball. The object is to maneuver the ball over the goal line of an opposing team while preventing them from doing the same.

History Of Power Soccer

We only need to go back to the 1970’s to find that the sport of wheelchair soccer originally developed in France. Some teachers created a form of football suited for the power wheelchair. The first version of the game involved an old basketball and “boards” along the sides of the basketball court.

It was introduced in the United States in the early 1980’s. Many countries were forming their own version of power soccer. In 1982 Canadian power wheelchair users developed another form of soccer, later called Motor Ball, changing to Motor Soccer and finally Power Soccer.

Students at the University in Berkley, CA imported a version of power soccer that differentiated from power chair football. It allowed picking and screening, had no speed limit, did not allow backing up, and used a very large ball.

Meanwhile, the Japanese were developing their sport and later England adopted their version.

In January 2005, 7 countries with 24 representatives from France, US, Canada, Japan, England, Belgium and Portugal met in Chesney, France. The top priority was to merge the four variations (France, Canadian/American, Japan and English) of the game into one standardized international format.

In October 2005 representatives met in Coimbra, Portugal. Teams displayed their styles of play and rules to the rest of the delegation. After lengthy discussions, a unanimous decision to adopt the English rules was made. This formed the basis for the “International Laws of the Game” for wheelchair soccer.

In July 2006 after months of fine tuning, the “International Laws of the Game” were adopted. Delegates met in Atlanta, GA. At the same time the United States was writing a Constitution and Bylaws for development of the sport at a national level. The official body in the United States for power soccer is the United States Power Soccer Association and is headquartered in Carmel, IN.

Power chair football, later called Motor Ball, changing to Motor Soccer and finally Power Soccer has grown to include more than 30 teams and is very popular with power wheelchair athletes.

Participants

Participants include people with quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke, head trauma, spinal cord injury and other disabilities.

Teams are not larger than 4 players and one of them must be the goalkeeper. Players can be as young as five years of age. The official composition of a team has 4 players with up to 4 subs. The goalkeeper wears colors that distinguish him from other players and may include bibs, hats, shirts, etc.

Power chairs must have 4 or more wheels and 3 and 4 wheeled scooters or similar equipment is not allowed. The player must be able to maintain eye contact with the ball and have good control of his power chair.

Safety equipment includes helmets, elbow guards, soccer guards, lap belts, leg, feet and chest straps if normally worn, headrest supports and other assistive equipment normally used by the player.

The Game

The duration of the game includes 2 twenty minute periods, unless otherwise agreed upon between the referees and the two teams. Halftime should not exceed 10 minutes. The sport is played on an indoor basketball court.

The winner of the coin toss chooses the goal they will attack in the first half and the other team takes the kickoff. The team that won the coin toss takes the kickoff to start the second half. Coaches are allowed to play but need to be listed on the team roster as coach and player. Levels of competition include regional, national and international. Competition format is restructuring from Division I and Division II to Conferences. Teams who registered for season will be placed in conferences based on their finishing positions in the National Tournament.

Once all teams have been assigned to a conference from Division I and II, then, all other teams will be placed in a conference. At this point teams will qualify for the Conference Cup by playing at least 12 games. This replaces the National Tournament and is called the Conference Cup Championship.

Summary

Power soccer also known as wheelchair soccer is becoming a very popular sport in the US and around the world for athletes of all ages who use a power chair. Like all sports there are rules, safety equipment for the participant and “gear” for the wheelchair. The athlete has to have very good control of their power chair and be able to act quickly.

It doesn’t matter your age or if you are male or female you may be able to participate in wheelchair soccer. Like any competitive sport, there are camps and selection processes to make the national team. To learn more about power soccer in the US visit the US Official Website.



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