Powerchair Soccer players in Calgary.

Powerchair soccer: living the inclusion

A challenging but rewarding activity for those involved, Powerchair soccer is steadily expanding in our province. We spoke with some people participating in this sport, who gave us valuable insight into how things are going and what should happen for them to thrive.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” once said hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. This quote comes to life when we think of Powerchair soccer players in our province, who are making a difference by letting everybody know that soccer is the world’s sport and, therefore, can be played by anyone. Shelly Zucht’s daughter Jordan, a student at Mount Royal University in Calgary, grew up watching her brother play hockey competitively, and she just wanted to be like him.

“They are both goalies, so having the same role was exciting for her,” says Shelly, who believes that Powerchair soccer competition in Alberta is growing. “Our club in Calgary is rebuilding. We currently have 6 players, men and women, but we know of 3 teams in the city who are looking at joining the league”. According to Shelly, seeing her daughter Jordan’s face expression when she plays soccer is hard to describe. “The feeling of camaraderie is second to none. They are always texting each other back and forth, wanting to know how things are going in university and life in general”, she confessed.

Shelly’s daughter Jordan

Trevis Brown started playing Powerchair soccer at least 10 years ago when he saw a tryout session at the Alberta Cerebral Palsy Sports Association (ACPSA). He normally meets with 5 or 6 friends to play the sport, an activity that gets immortalized thanks to his YouTube channel, where a handful of videos show us that Powerchair soccer is a fun sport, full of talent and precision.

“What I enjoy the most about it is the competition, and going to tournaments,” Trevis admits. “Hopefully, we can continue to grow. I know Calgary is getting more players, and with those from Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge, I believe our sport can evolve in a good way,” he added.

In Grande Prairie, Corrie Funk leads Swan City FC‘s Powerchair soccer team. “We have a team of 7 players who train every week, all year round with occasional breaks. We don’t have games locally, meaning we need to travel to Edmonton or Calgary,” Corrie says.

She defines herself as a big believer in inclusion, but knows that improving is no easy task. “Soccer is a very accessible sport, adaptable to every skill level. Players can use their own chairs; however, we are fundraising to get 6 more Strikeforce chairs, manufactured in the United States. We got some through donations, but would like to add more for our players’ comfort”.

Corrie also added that finding coaches and referees is challenging, but strong-minded players make that part easier. “They all want more players to join the game. We all know that we need to collaborate with clubs in other parts of the province so that we can all do things with them. My dream is for Alberta to have a powerful team that can travel and compete in Nationals,” she concluded.

Regarding future projects, Trevis Brown said there is a plan to travel to Mexico in February, but funding is always something to consider. In that matter, Shelly Zucht clarified that they are constantly working on sponsorship: “We are using social media in order to spread the word and try and find financial support. We know times are tough, but we will work hard to have our kids compete with other players in Canada, the United States and other countries,” she closed.