Power Soccer players are gearing up for three national tournaments this summer, which would make a perfect road trip for wheelchair van users.
The sport features players using power wheelchairs on a basketball court in a game similar to conventional soccer. The wheelchairs are outfitted with “guards” that protect the players’ feet and allow them to pass and shoot the ball.
Each side has three attacking players and a goalie, allowing for a wide-open, free-flowing style of play.
Power soccer is popular among players with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis and others.
The upcoming tournaments are the Braun Premier Cup in Tampa, Fla., from June 15-17; the PowerSoccerShop Presidents Cup in Minneapolis from June 21-23; and the 2012 Champions Cup in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Power soccer is governed by a The U.S. national team became the first to win back-to-back World Cup titles last fall in Paris, defeating England 3-0 in the final match.
Zak Schmoll has been playing power soccer for after he was recruited in the student center at the University of Vermont.
“This guy came up to me using a manual wheelchair and started telling me about a new team they were starting. I had never heard of this sport before, but I went to practice that first weekend, and I was hooked,” Schmoll said.
He hopped on his blog and wrote, “Any power wheelchair users who live in this area need to come out for this.”
Schmoll and his Vermont Chargers teammates are working on their passing skills as they prepare for the Minneapolis tournament.
“Power soccer is one of those games where it is a lot easier to score if you can pass well. Therefore, we are really trying to make smart passes and advance the ball down the court more efficiently,” he said.
The “guards” attached to the front of the wheelchairs are very importance, and their shapes lend themselves to different styles of play.
“I play with the one with the rounded front because I like the way that I can pass at a bunch of different angles. With a flat front, you don’t have that flexibility, but you do gain a wider side, which makes it easier to spin kick,” Schmoll said.
Schmoll has a website featuring these guards called Spinkickers. That’s his Twitter handle, too. He thinks the sport of Power Soccer has a lot of room to grow.
There is only one team in the entire state of Texas,” he said. “If we had more teams, there would obviously be more competition, and that would challenge the already existing teams to get even better.”
Schmoll uses a different chair to play power soccer than he uses in his daily life.
“I have actually never seriously damaged my chair by playing power soccer, but many people do,” he said.
New power soccer teams can join the U.S. Power Soccer Association. This allows them to register as non-profit organizations and allows them to compete in the national tournaments, according to Schmoll.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffDGorman.