Maximizing Independence in Power Soccer

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Content via Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Power soccer is a competitive sport played indoors by athletes in power wheelchairs. A special foot guard resembling a cage is attached to the front of the wheelchair, and athletes use this combined with the motion of the chair to propel the soccer ball across the court and into the net.

Chris Finn is the head coach of the BORP Bay Earthquakes and Crushers. BORP stands for Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program and is a non-profit organization located in Berkeley, California that provides sports for people with disabilities.

Chris felt the thrill of power soccer the first day he tried it. He was doing a drill where he had to push the ball into the net using the foot guard. The ball sailed into the net, and he nonchalantly began to wheel back in line. “But on the inside,” shares Chris, “I was going ‘Gooooooal!’ just like they do in the outdoor game. I imagined myself sliding on my knees, going back, and everybody’s piling on top of me. That’s exactly how I felt.”

Power soccer athletes include individuals with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, head trauma, stroke, and other disabilities. “I’ve been playing soccer for two years now and I really like it," shared one participant. "It makes a big difference in a lot of disabled people’s lives.”

The level of independence power soccer brings to the lives of players is a powerful force.

“Some of the players, everyday they need 24 hour care … dressing, bathing, feeding, everything, but when they get on the court, they’re an athlete. And they’re independent.”

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