Roughly 15 years ago, Tom Dickey was introduced to the sport of power soccer. Today, he credits that sport with changing the lives of his children. Power soccer is a sport for athletes with relatively severe physical disabilities, such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries.
The sport is played indoors on a basketball-size court. Athletes use their power wheelchairs to play the game of soccer. It is 4 vs. 4 and can be fast-paced, intense and very exciting to watch. No matter level, the sport gives individuals the opportunity to experience team competition, completely independently. It is the athlete, their chair, their teammates and the ball. Athletes experiencing thrill of winning and the disappointment of losing, as well as life lessons that come along with setting goals, working together, striving to do your best.
Tom can tell you firsthand how transformative the sport can be in the lives of children with disabilities. “There are a group ‘kids’ who are now 20-somethings in central Indiana that began playing when the sport first came to Indiana about 15 years ago. Three of those kids are mine,” he explained. According to Tom, today most of those kids have college degrees; many have advanced degrees or are currently pursuing them… some married, getting married, having kids, having great jobs and making a difference in their communities. They have traveled all over the country and internationally, both competing and teaching other others how to play the sport. “They are, in short, amazing young men and women. Who knows what life holds, but I can tell you every athlete I’m talking about, and every parent like me, would say that power soccer was one of the most influential things that ever happened in their life,” Tom said.
During the weekend of June 16, 17 and 18, central Indiana families have the chance to see power soccer in action with two events taking place at Grand Park Fieldhouse in Westfield:
United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) National Cup Championships
This is the “main event” in power soccer. In the U.S. power soccer teams are divided into divisions, which are called “Cups”. There are 10 teams in each Cup. The top 3 Cup Championships are being held the weekend of June 16, 17 and 18 at the Fieldhouse with 30 teams from all over the country competing. Competition begins Friday morning and continues all weekend until Sunday afternoon. Local families looking to learn more about the sport are encouraged to stop by the Fieldhouse any time throughout the weekend to see the sport in action.
Westfield Mayor Cook graciously agreed to host the Inaugural Mayors’ Cup, which will be held in conjunction with the USPSA National Cup Championships to serve as a fundraiser for USPSA. The Mayor’s Cup will take place on Friday, June 16th, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Mayors Cook, Fadness, Brainard and Ditslear, as well as Hamilton County Commissioner, Mark Heirbrandt will take part in an exhibition game by using competition chairs to play a game alongside local athletes who are on Team USA. The exhibition game is open to the public. In addition to raising funds for athletes with disabilities, the goal is to also help spread the word about power soccer, so that families who have young children with severe physical disabilities can learn about it.
“Power soccer not only gives children the life lessons that come from playing a competitive team sport, but also a network of peers (both athletes and families) that learn from each other and stay connected outside the sport,” Tom added. Learn more about power soccer at powersoccerusa.net.