Power soccer athletes convened from across the nation to show off their skills during two exhibition games at Medtrade 2014. The games took place on Medtrade’s Expo Floor at the Georgia World Congress Center during October as hundreds of people witnessed the skilled athletes take each other on with a spirit of positive energy and friendly competitiveness.
Power soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Athletes’ disabilities include quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and many others.
About the Sport
Power soccer games are usually played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court. Two teams of four players attack, defend, and spin-kick a 13-inch soccer ball in a skilled and challenging game similar to traditional soccer.
In 2006, seven countries came together to hold a summit in Atlanta, Ga, and the result was a standardization of the laws, and the forming of an International Federation. From that meeting, the first World Cup was held in Tokyo, Japan, and the first US National Team competition was formed.
Rules and strategy are similar to the popular outdoor version. “The United States team has dominated international competition,” says Russo. “We will try for our third world cup next year in Australia or Canada.”
“These players are incredibly skilled,” adds Kevin Gaffney, group show director for Medtrade. “It was our pleasure to make room for the game on the Expo floor and show attendees what this growing game is all about.”
The growth and development of power soccer has been tremendous on a global level, hampered only by time and funding. “The biggest challenge is the cost of travel,” says Dominic Russo, president of the USPSA, who also served as a referee during the Medtrade exhibition game.
MK Battery is the USPSA title sponsor, and helps defray some of the considerable expense associated with the sport. According to Wayne Merdinger, executive vice president and general manager of MK Battery, the sponsorship arrangement is much more than a financial or business arrangement, and amounts to a “significant emotional commitment that our entire company has embraced.”
The United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) governs the sport of power soccer in the United States. The USPSA promotes power soccer on a national and international level through tournament play, referee certification, training and growth. It is the mission and hope of the USPSA that all persons with disabilities who use power wheelchairs will have the opportunity to play and experience power soccer. Power soccer is a team sport that helps build character through teamwork, communication, hard work, perseverance, good sportsmanship. The USPSA is also committed to make power soccer an internationally-recognized sport that will one day be in the Paralympics.
USPSA Organizational Initiatives
The USPSA is actively developing an Officials Training Program throughout the United States. This program will train and certify referees to officiate power soccer matches in their local communities as well as at sanctioned USPSA events.
They are in the process of networking through a variety of disability-related organizations to bring the sport of power soccer to as many power wheelchair users as possible. It is their goal to create teams in every state and grow the program across the country. The USPSA representatives have visited more than 50 cities in an effort to grow the sport of power soccer. They are seeking to develop a broad base of affiliated members throughout the United States who will assist in promoting power soccer as well as financially support the organization.
The USPSA’s third initiative is to strengthen their International Competition Program, Team USA. The first international team under USPSA was selected in late 2006. Twelve players representing teams from all over the country were selected to represent the USA in international competition. This team trained together and individually for over a year to prepare for the Inaugural Powerchair Football World Cup held in Tokyo, Japan in October 2007. Seven countries competed over a six-day period at this historic event bringing together diverse cultures, skills and styles. Team USA’s strength was apparent from the first whistle to the final buzzer as the USA went undefeated and won the Cup!
USPSA Team Building
The United States Power Soccer Association continues to grow in cities across the country. They currently have more than 60 teams registered and encourage all those interested in becoming part of this exciting wheelchair sport to join an existing team or even create a new one. Here is a list of all the current teams in the USPSA.]
If there is not a team near you, consider forming your own!
Medtrade is the largest tradeshow in the U.S. focused exclusively on the home medical equipment market, with two shows held each year on the East and West coasts. Medtrade is designed to give today’s providers the highest quality educational, networking and advocacy opportunities and the largest selection of HME products under one roof. Join us at Medtrade Spring 2015, March 30 – April 1, 2015 Mandalay Bay Convention Center • Las Vegas, NV. More at: www.medtrade.com.