Power soccer takes center stage
ATLANTA – The Medtrade show floor served as a makeshift soccer field on Wednesday as Atlanta power soccer teams the Strikers and Sting faced off in an exhibition game.
Developed in France in the 1970s, power soccer is the only major sport involving power chairs and has been gaining momentum since the founding of the United States Power Soccer Association in 2006, says association president Dominic Russo. The US power soccer league has grown to 60 teams and Russo hopes to reach 70 going forward.
Like any sport, power soccer has rules to maintain equipment consistency, competitive fairness and player safety. Open to men and women of all ages, the sport uses a 13-inch soccer ball and follows the basic soccer format.
“The goal really isn’t about sports—it’s about life learning experiences,” Russo said.
Wayne Merdinger, president of MK Battery, said his company is sponsored the event because “the HME industry needs to be aware of this sport and get involved with it.”
MK Battery is also the official battery of the organization.
Medtrade officials were also happy to help out, says Kevin Gaffney, show director.
“Medtrade, by it’s very nature, tend to be an ‘industry’ show, but the power soccer exhibition is a great way for attendees to connect with patients and/or power wheelchair users who are the whole reason we are in business,” he said.
The USPSA has received Paralympic recognition and Russo hopes that it will eventually become an official sport of the games. Meanwhile, power soccer has its own version of the World Cup, with teams from 18 countries competing.
For players such as 12-year veteran Dustin Swafford, it offers a chance to “to travel, meet people and compete. I really love to compete,” he said.