INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As millions of people watch the World Cup take place in Brazil, skilled athletes from around the country were in central Indiana this weekend to play some soccer of their own. But it’s a kind of soccer you may not have seen before – world class soccer for those on four wheels.
“This is my eleventh year in power soccer,” said Lexi Heer, 18, of Fishers, as she prepared for her game.
Heer is among hundreds of players who are part of the U.S. Power Soccer Association.
“It’s a sport specifically designed for those in power wheel-chairs,” said Dominic Russo, President of the U.S. Power Soccer Association.
Players – four on four – “spin kick” an oversized ball for two 20-minute halves.
“It’s here for those with severe disabilities that find themselves in a power chair who have no other outlet for sporting,” said Russo.
“We’re a close family,” said Heer.” “And I love the competitive aspect of it, too,” she said as she smiled.
Just as soccer is known as the world’s sport, “Power Soccer” is also an international game. Russo said it was first developed in France in the early 70′s, introduced to the United States in the early 80′s, and lately has really kicked into high gear.
On Sunday, 18 teams, 140 athletes, and their fans were in Indianapolis from around the country to compete for this year’s Championship Cup.
But it’s not all about soccer.
“It’s more than a sport,” said Karen Russo, President of Power Soccer of Indy.
It’s proof, they say, that a disability doesn’t have to disable you.
“When players come to us they’re full of a life of ‘no johnny’ or ‘no suzie, we’re not going to be able to do that, we’re not going to be able to do that.’ And actually the parents come skeptical that it’s like, ‘soccer, what’s this about? That’s probably not going to happen … and then all of a sudden (the players) are totally independent on the court and it’s all about them making decisions totally on their own.”
Russo said it released them to discover who they are .
“I don’t think about the disabilities that people have,” said Heer. “You look at the abilities that they do have and being able to still play. That’s what I see.”
Click here for more information on Power Soccer of Indy, the largest league in the country.