Football is the world’s most popular sport. It is played in over 200 countries worldwide by over 250 million players. Almost everyone can play the game, just by kicking a ball around. However, some people, those in wheelchairs in particular, cannot physically play football. I used to play football at school with my friends. I played in goal as that was the only position I could play in as I couldn’t kick the ball. It basically involved getting hit by the ball a disproportionately large amount of times – often in the face. Luckily now there is a better option: Powerchair Football.
Powerchair Football was originally played in France in the 1970s before it spread throughout Europe, and then to Canada and the US in the 80s. It wasn’t until 2005 however an organisation was formed to govern the game internationally: the Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Associations (FIPFA), which at the time consisted of nine countries.
Today Powerchair Football is played in 27 countries worldwide and is the world’s fastest-growing sport. Each participating country has an organisation responsible for the sport in the country. In England, where I live, this is the Wheelchair Football Association (WFA) which was formed in 2005. There are approximately 37 Powerchair Football Clubs all over England and new ones are springing up all the time. I play for Lincolnshire Powerchair Football Club which is relatively new as we only started training properly last year.
The Powerchair Football World Cup began in 2007 in Japan and is held every four years. The winners of the World Cup in 2007 and 2011 were the USA who beat England in the final in 2011. One of my dreams is to play for England in powerchair football. But I have a long way to go before I will be good enough for that!
Check out the video below to see what it’s all about:
So how do you play the game? The rules are pretty much the same as normal football but with a few differences. Here are the basics:
- Played inside on a standard basketball court
- Four players on each team
- Matches are 40 minutes long, 20 minutes each half
- “2 on 1” rule: You can’t have two players from the same team attacking one player from the other team when they have the ball. It has to be one-on-one, and any other player is not allowed within a 3 m radius of them. The exception to this is there can be two players from a defending team in the penalty area (one defender and the goalkeeper) versus one attacker)
As you can probably guess from the name “Powerchair Football”, it is played using powerchairs. You can use your own powerchair, or you can use specialist sports powerchairs which are specially designed to play the game. The sports powerchairs are lightning fast and can travel at speeds of approximately 10 km/h. They can spin on the spot and if you were standing too close it would probably flip you upside down!
As the powerchairs drive so fast obviously this could be dangerous. So bumpers are required to play the game which can be attached to the front of the chairs. The bumpers are designed to absorb the impact of collisions which protects the chair from damage. The bumpers also allow you to drive along with the ball which you wouldn’t be able to do without them.
The football we use is a lot bigger than a normal football. We use a ball which is 33 cm in diameter.
Powerchair Football is an expensive sport. The sports powerchairs cost over £5000 each. The Bumpers cost over £600 each, and the balls costs £50 each. Also if the chairs break then it is expensive to mend them. Add to this the cost of renting a sports hall to train in every week and the cost mounts up. Therefore powerchair football clubs rely heavily on sponsorship, fundraising and grant money to survive. As far as I am concerned though the sport is worth every penny, as without it I, and many others, would not be able to play sport at all. So if you have any spare money to donate to your local powerchair football club it would be very gratefully received!
Visit the FIPFA website to find out more information about the game: http://fipfa.org/
If you live in England visit the WFA website to find your local club: http://www.thewfa.org.uk/index.php
My club Lincolnshire Powerchair Football Club is always looking for new players. So if you are interested in playing for us then please email our secretary: email@example.com
Or visit our website: https://lincolnshirepfc.wordpress.com/
Thanks for Reading!