By Ciarán Nesbitt
Never did I think that I would play one of my favourite sports in the world, at the tender age of thirty-seven
It all began when I went to an information fair at the Stillorgan Park Hotel, for people with disabilities. It was here that I first was introduced to Powerchair Football, by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Sports Partnership. Powerchair Football is played by people that use power wheelchairs.
This game is the nearest thing to real soccer that powerchair users are going to get to participate in. It's a very competitive and tactical sport, and you need to be aware of what is going on around you on the court at all times. Powerchair Football has to be played on a hard court in order to provide a surface that allows for ease of movement by the power wheelchairs. It is like normal soccer, as we have to get on our boots!
"Our boots" in this case is a guard around our footplates, and as I learned it would be advisable to use our footplates for adequate protection, just like shin guards!
Powerchair Football is a four-aside game, of 25 minutes a half, and obviously the rules are slightly adapted for the power wheelchair users, but the beautiful game is not diminished in anyway, and there is always that competitive edge, which is necessary for any team sport.
Powerchair Football is very popular around the world as I discovered on You Tube, with International competitions and World Cups in existence; we have a bit of a journey ahead of us to be thinking about that level just now, but hopefully the game will take off in this part of the world.
CBS the American news channel have covered Powerchair Football in their news bulletins, which further cement its growth and popularity. The proof of its growing stature is highlighted by the Powerchair Football leagues popping up all over Europe, so it is not too far from being a reality here that we may, ourselves, be partaking in a league of our own very soon, as there are teams being assembled all over Ireland as I write this article! Like me, a lot of people may have thought other sports for people with disabilities were very mundane, but with this game you can't help but be motivated by it and enjoy it.
Even those around me who never liked or enjoyed the art form that is soccer, are finding the football bug has burrowed under their skin and their enthusiasm cannot be measured!
I have to say that the game is very easy to get excited about and you can see why people want to be involved in Powerchair Football. It's a very passionate sport and you need to be
very committed and dedicated to it. It gives people plenty of enjoyment from the game and that's very important to all Powerchair Football players.
*St. Josephs Powerchair Football Club trains every Friday evening at St Josephs Boys, Pearse Park, Sallynoggin and is supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Sports Partnership.
New Members Welcome! Queries to Phena O'Connor, SIDO, 01 271 9506.