- For the online multiplayer game, see Power Challenge
Powerchair Football, also known as Power Soccer is a competitive team sport for people with disabilities who use power wheelchairs. The game is played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court. Two teams of four players use powerchairs equipped with footguards to attack, defend, and spin-kick a 13-inch (330 mm) football in an attempt to score goals.
Power Soccer was first played in France in the 1970s. It then spread around Europe (Belgium, Portugal, Denmark and England) before a group of Vancouver athletes began playing a variation of the game in Canada in 1982. The game then moved down the west coast to Berkeley, California in 1988 and across the Pacific to Japan. In 2005, representatives of the 9 nations met in Coimbra, Portugal and, in 2006, in Atlanta, US to form the Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Associations (FIPFA).
The sport is played in on a standard-sized basketball court. Each team is allowed 4 players on the court at one time including the goalkeeper. A match consists of two 20-minute periods. Because of the two-dimensional aspect of this game (players are typically unable to kick the ball into the air), artificial space has to be created around the players. The two distinct differences in the laws from the able bodied game are: 1) the "two-on-one" rule, and 2) the 3-in-the-goal-area violation.1
- "2-on-1". Only a player and an opponent are allowed within 3 meters of the ball when it is in play. If a teammate of either one comes within the 3 meters the referee may call an infringement and award an indirect free kick. This forces the players to spread the field and prevents clogging up of play, allowing for a greater free flow of play. The only exception to this violation is if one of the 2 teammates is a goalkeeper inside his/her own goal area, then there is no infraction of the laws.
- "3-in-the-goal-area". The defending team is only allowed to have 2 players in their own goal area. If a third player enters the area, the referee may stop the game and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.
In the case of either of these infractions (2-on-1 and 3-in-the-area), the referee may refrain from making the call if the player in question is not affecting the play (similar to the concept of the offside law in able-bodied football).
Additionally, because many of the players do not have the upper body strength to throw the ball with their arms, when the ball leaves the touchline of the field, the players kick the ball back into play. In other words, instead of a "throw-in" from the sideline, powerchair football has a "kick-in"...and because the ball is 'kicked' a goal can be scored directly.
Intentionally striking or ramming another player may result in a penalty.
Players are required to use a powerchair with 4 or more wheels. The maximum allowable speed during a match is 10 km/h (6.2 mph), and the referees will inspect the players' speed before the match begins. A lap belt and foot guard are also required equipment. The ball is an oversized soccer ball, 13 inches (33 cm) in diameter.2
The first Powerchair Football World Cup was held in Tokyo, Japan in October 2007.3 The final was played on 13 October, with the United States beating France in a penalty shootout. The second Powerchair Football World Cup was held in Paris, France in November 2011. The final was played on 6 November, with the United States beating England 3 - 0 in regulation. This was the first US team to win back-to-back World Cup Championship in any sport.
The first Americas Champions Cup was held in Atlanta, U.S.A in October 2009. Atlanta Synergy is the most successful team in Americas Champions Cup for winning it two times in a row.Atlanta Synergy won the Americas Champions Cup 2010 defeating by 4 goals to 0 the Tampa Thunder in a final where Atlanta confirmed its superiority seen during all the tournament in Burnaby, Canada.4
- Federation International de Powerchair Football Associations (FIPFA)
- Official Site of the 2007 World Cup of Powerchair Football