Canberra United’s Powerchair football team has received new sets of wheels, thanks to the generous efforts of Rotary and Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy.
Powerchair football is a modified version of soccer for electric wheelchair users, including persons with quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, hand trauma, stroke, and other spinal cord injuries.
In 2017, Capital Football and Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy joined forces to form a local Powerchair football team, with monthly training sessions and come and try days hosted twice a year.
Since then, the team has grown to eight players who train once a week, using generic electric wheelchairs with homemade modified bumpers.
To help the team reach their full potential, Capital Football approached Rotary to ask for their assistance to raise over $120,000 for nine new Powerchairs to be bought from the United States.
Capital Football’s Game Development Manager Kelly Stirton said the new chairs will see Canberra United’s Powerchair team reach new heights.
“These nine new chairs are designed for competition with safety barriers, harnesses, headrests, and faster speeds,” Stirton said. “We have been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received getting the chairs to Canberra.
“It will be exciting to unveil the chairs to the team because our players will now have the opportunity to go further in the sport and to compete at levels that weren’t possible before.
“We want to remind everyone that there are opportunities for people with a disability. Regardless of your age, gender, or disability, there is a sport for you.”
Capital Football CEO Phil Brown, Canberra United Powerchair captain Brandon Stroud and coach Kelly Stirton.
Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy’s Rob Oakley said the sport is an important way for kids with muscular dystrophy to feel like they are a part of a team.
“It is fantastic that we have found a way to give them an opportunity to be like every other kid and get involved in a team sport,” Mr Oakley said.
“We want to make sure that their everyday life is a little easier. Sport is a great way for people to develop, build their self-confidence and blossom.”
Canberra United’s Powerchair team will now be able to compete in the Australian Powerchair Football National Championship competition, which features five Australian teams as well as two teams from New Zealand.
The ACT has previously not been included in the competition because it lacked the accredited Powerchairs to compete.
Rotary Club of Aurora Gungahlin (RCAG) chair John Platten said the club was delighted to raise money for the team.
“As part of our Rotary Club Project, we wanted to provide funding assistance, so persons with disabilities in Canberra and surrounding districts can play Powerchair football competitively,” Mr Platten said.
“Australia will be hosting the 2022 Powerchair Football World Cup so it would be great to see an ACT representative competing on the world stage.”
Canberra United Powerchair Team
Players: William McLennan, Yasin Ahmed, Alistair McKinley, Brandon Stroud, Michael Foster, Giovanni Tiyce, Jamie Larsen, and Rob Oakley.
Coaching Staff: Kelly Stirton and Aaron Foster