Participation in sport is a great way to make new friends, learn teamwork and communication skills, and unite people at local, regional, national and international levels. For many it provides a good basis for personal improvement, and for those with disabilities it can provide a great opportunity to socialise and a chance to live comfortably despite their conditions. There are many sports available for those with disabilities, but one of the fastest-growing is Powerchair Football.
Powerchair Football is a 4-a-side sport that requires the use of a specially-adapted powerchair with a guard attachment which allows players to hit a beach ball-sized football. Although it has the same objective as regular football, the rules differ. For example, games typically last 40mins with 20min per half of the game. However, continuous rule-breaches still result in either yellow or red cards.
There are three types of powerchairs allowed within Powerchair Football, arranging the sport into three stages:
- Stage 1: This stage is for everyday use/medical chairs – these provide the perfect starting point for those who want to try at a beginner level
- Stage 2: Chairs in this stage are modified versions of stage one chairs that are designed for the sport; they are the minimal standard to be able to compete at regional/national level
- Stage 3: The last stage uses custom build chairs: these are mainly designed for the sport to benefit elite players, but they cost a lot more because they are bespoke. This means a lot of players rely on funding to compete at the highest level
Stage 3 chairs, compared to the others, give an advantage in the sport by providing players with the power to perform high-powered kicks and more options for passing. Even though these have only been allowed since the start of the 2016/17 season, they have proven to benefit many teams in the field of play.
Throughout the 6 years I have been playing for Nottingham PFC, both my confidence and acceptance of my disability have benefited greatly. Every player is really helpful, each working to help others cope with certain stages of their disabilities. I’ve learned that disabled people can still be successful: many people I meet in the sport have great aspirations, careers and independent lifestyles. I’ve also been playing it at the Lee Westwood Sports centre for years, based at Nottingham Trent University. Playing here has allowed me to choose the perfect university; studying there will mean that my passion for Powerchair Football will be catered for while I study!
It’s clear Powerchair Football is a great sport for everyone, no matter their disability. It provides a great way to bring people together to find peace with what they’re going through by competing. Hopefully in the future, this sport becomes even more expansive and gives more people with disabilities a chance to play the UK’s favourite sport, Football.
If you would like to find more information on Powerchair Football or get involved in some way, please visit: http://www.thewfa.org.uk/