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Friday, June 18, 2021

Canberra United’s Powerchair football team gets new wheels

Rotary and Capital Region Muscular Dystrophy have provided Canberra United’s Powerchair football team with a new set of wheels, to compete in the Australian Powerchair Football National Championship competition.

Previously the ACT has not been included in the competition because it lacked the accredited Powerchairs to compete.

With nine new chairs – specifically designed for competition with safety barriers, harnesses, headrests, and faster speeds – they are now ready to face five other Australian teams and two from New Zealand.

Powerchair football is a modified version of soccer for electric wheelchair users, and is suitable for 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. 

Capital Football’s Game Development Manager Kelly Stirton they have been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received.

“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 Region Muscular Dystrophy’s Rob Oakley said the sport was an important way for kids with muscular dystrophy to feel like 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.”

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.”

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