Intro to Power Soccer
Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users. The sport was originally developed in France in the early 70’s and was introduced to the United States in the early 80’s. Since then, many countries created their own version of the sport which led to an international meeting in Paris, France 2005. It was the vision of the six countries that attended, to create an international organization and unify the rules for international competition. The international organization, "Federation International de Powerchair Football Association" was born. This development led to the formal organization of the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) in 2006.
Power Soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. These participants include persons with quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, head trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury and other disabilities.
Power Soccer combines the skill of the wheelchair user with the speed and power of the chair itself, to participate in an extremely challenging game similar to soccer. The game is played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court. Two teams of four power wheelchair users attack, defend, and spin-kick a 13-inch soccer ball in an attempt to score goals.
Laws of the Game
The rules of power soccer are pretty simple. Each team's starting unit is comprised with three offensive players and one goalie, and the game is played on a basketball court. During a game, the objective is to maneuver the soccer ball with the aid of a guard placed in front of the wheelchair through dribbling and passing skills. Like able-bodied soccer, the game incorporates a wide open, passing style and uses corner, penalty and goal kicks. The fouls and penalties that are enforced in power soccer are also similar to the able-bodied game and also use red and yellow cards. If you would like to learn more about the official rules of power soccer, you may download the Laws of the Game below.
Every team is placed into one of five conferences. Four of the five conferences (Premier, Champions, Presidents, and Founders) are composed of teams that often travel throughout the year and compete in an annual Conference Cup championship tournament during the summer. The lowest conference (Non-Conference) is composed of teams that do not wish to travel much, and they do not participate in a championship.
Each Conference team is required to play at least 12 games during the season to qualify for their Conference Cup. These tournaments are held between June 1st and July 31st. Tournament sites will be determined each fall for the next summer. Interested host cities should download the Conference Cup Bid Packet (available on the Downloads page) to learn about hosting or to submit a bid for hosting a conference cup.
At the end of the season, teams are promoted and relegated from each conference - much like the divisions in the English Premier League! The bottom two teams of each conference (except for Founders) will be placed in the next lower conference, and the top two teams of each conference (except for Premier) will be advanced to the next conference.
In October of 2007, seven countries - Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Japan, Portugal, and the United States - met in Tokyo, Japan for the inaugural FIPFA World Cup. Team USA sent 11 members (eight starters, three reserves) from around the country to compete with the world's elite power soccer athletes. Team USA dominated round-robin play, scoring 28 goals and allowing only two. In the championship game, France took an early 1-0 lead, but the U.S. tied it at 1-1 in the second half and won the World Cup in a sudden death penalty kick shoot out, 6-5. Team USA was World Champs!
In October of 2011, the second FIPFA World Cup was held in Paris, France, this time with 10 competing nations. Team USA held four training camps a year in the years leading up the tournament, and sent eight exceptional athletes to compete, including three returning from 2007. Their hard work was rewarded with a second consecutive World Cup title! Despite a loss to England in pool play, Team USA defeated England in the championship match by a score of 3-0. The World Cup MVP was our own Michael Archer from Greenwood, Indiana.
For more information about Team USA, visit: www.PowerSoccerTeamUSA.org
History of Power Soccer
Powerchair Football has been played around the world in various forms for decades. During the 1970’s, some imaginative teachers in France created a form of football suited to the abilities of students with severe physical disabilities who used power wheelchairs. The initial version of the game involved an old basketball and “boards” along the sides of the court. Over the years, French Powerchair Football went through many adaptations and adjustments and grew into a highly competitive sport with more than 30 teams in three divisions and many tournaments leading up to national championships.
Meanwhile, in 1982, some energetic Canadian power wheelchair users developed another form of Powerchair Football, which they called Motor Ball (later changed to Motor Soccer and then to Power Soccer). In 1988, power soccer was imported to the USA by a disabled sports program founded by university students in Berkeley, California. Power soccer differed from Powerchair Football as it allowed picking and screening, had no speed limit, used a very big ball and did not allow backing up. The Japanese were also concurrently developing the sport to fit their needs and their version of the sport was adopted by England.
During these early years, the various forms of Powerchair football were played with most of the countries being unaware of each other’s endeavors. In 2004, a US Power Soccer coach, David Ruelas, visited Belgium on vacation and discovered the European form of the game. He then made contact with Herve Delattre, the Director of Powerchair Football in France. Their subsequent discussions, led to the idea of developing Powerchair Football into an international sport. In January 2005, 24 representatives from seven countries (France, US, Canada, Japan, England, Belgium and Portugal) met in Le Chesnay, France and laid the groundwork for the formation of the International Powerchair Football Association (IPFA). IPFA’s objectives were to develop an international governing body for Powerchair football and to promote the sport worldwide. Merging the four major variations of the game (French, Canadian/American, Japanese, English) into one standardized international format was established as the top priority.
In October 2005, representatives from the same seven countries met in Coimbra, Portugal. Teams from France, Japan, England and the USA demonstrated their rules and styles of play to the rest of the delegations. Long discussions resulted in a unanimous decision to use the English rules as the basis for the international Laws of the Game.
During the next nine months, rules were discussed, debated, and modified and tried out on the field of play. In July 2006, teams from Canada, Denmark, England, France, Japan and the US, as well as delegates from Portugal, Turkey and South Korea, met in Atlanta, GA, USA. While the teams engaged in many practice sessions and a test tournament to fine tune the proposed laws, other delegates worked on a constitution and elected the organization’s first officers. At the end of these meetings, the standardized Laws of the Game were adopted, the constitution was ratified, the name was changed and the international governing body, the Federation International Powerchair Football Association (FIPFA) was formally established with headquarters in Paris, France.
During this same period, a dedicated group of people was working to form the organization that would govern power soccer in the USA. Their work focused on the writing of a Constitution and Bylaws to provide a framework for effective development and administration of the sport nationally. Following the adoption of the Constitution and elections in August of 2006, the charter board under the direction of President Dominic Russo brought the dream to life and the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) was born. The USPSA became a legal entity in October 2006 and was granted 501(c)3 non profit status in February, 2007. The USPSA is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.