By Sarah Van Vooren, Atoot Co-Founder, Equal Playing Field Ambassador and part of our Spirit of Football Family:
Powerchair football is the greatest sport you have probably never heard about. Let me be the first to say:
THIS FOOTBALL IS INCREDIBLE!
We met the Melbourne City Powerchair Team at their practice facilities to learn all about their beautiful game. This variant of football is for people with physical disabilities. They use electric chairs equipped with footguards to attack, defend, and spin-kick. They play with an oversized, 330 mm, football – the perfect size for the chairs’ footguards to receive or spin-kick the ball onwards.
The chairs are operated by any means they can to play the beautiful game – and wow, it’s bloody brilliant! Powerchair football requires all the usual skills, like ball control, teamwork, positioning, movement – but has an added layer of expertise, like being able to move your electric wheelchair around and perfectly receive or pass the ball at a fast pace of play.
We introduced The Ball to their team and spoke a bit about its overall journey. However, at this visit we wanted to speak less and listen more. We wanted to learn all about their beautiful game.
The powerchair players are magnificent footballers, who have some of the most incredible technical skills I have ever witnessed. They brought an extra chair for Iris, Andrew and I so we could play powerchair football with them. What a rush of exhilaration and excitement I felt while playing with these extraordinary footballers. They passed and spun circles around me, encouraged me and cheered me on when I attempted several spin-kicks.
These footballers are not just challenging any misconceptions people might have about people with physical disabilities daily – but like Spirit of Football and The Ball’s journey – they are working together to grow awareness and create a more inclusive society, one kick at a time.
Pictures by Hamish John Appleby.