When I was younger, in the days before I took up power hockey, I briefly played power wheelchair soccer at my school, Sunny View. I remember playing it during gym class and occasionally over the lunch hour. I didn’t pursue it further because I found playing power hockey more enjoyable. However, this sport has caught on in many circles internationally, and I am amazed to see its growth in the years since graduating from Sunny View.
Power wheelchair soccer is played with an average of four players per team on the floor (unlike in standard soccer where there are 11 players per team on the field). There are coaches and officials like in standard soccer games. All players have bumpers attached to their footrests, which act as footrest protectors. Bumpers also make it easier to ‘kick’ the ball. When I played I only used my plates and wheels to kick the ball. The ball itself is the size of a regular soccer ball.
Wheelchair soccer is a variation of association football. The wheelchair can be motorised (i.e. power chair) or manual, however, you can’t have both types on the floor at the same time. Both power and manual wheelchair soccer are played in organised leagues in the USA.
In Canada, the sport has caught on in British Columbia and Quebec. There is one acquaintance of mine in Vancouver who has played power soccer for about six years. He tells me there are teams throughout BC who play competitively as members of the BC Power Soccer Association. To my knowledge, there presently aren’t any wheelchair soccer leagues in the province of Ontario.
Internationally, power chair soccer is played in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and Australia. International rules have been laid out by the FIPFA (Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Association), based in France, where the sport was introduced in 1978. According to the FIPFA, the concept of ‘power soccer’ was introduced in Canada in 1979.
I have read from more than one source that power chair soccer is the most prominent of all power chair sports. If this is true, how come it hasn’t caught on in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province?
The Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association (CEWHA) used to have a Vancouver Island division (I remember when it formed), but it folded a few years ago, partly due to the growth of power soccer.
I’m hoping this blog will stimulate interest and dialogue, especially for readers in Ontario. Power chair soccer can yield the same recreational and social benefits as power hockey (and other wheelchair sports for that matter). Perhaps attempting the sport at a school gym or local fitness facility could generate more interest in developing an organised league. The more sports there are for those of us with disabilities, the better.