Powerchair Football was the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for powerchair users. The sport 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 powerchairs. Over the years, the sport went through many adaptations and adjustments and it wasn't until 2005 that the sport became unified across multiple countries.
The sport was introduced in Australia in 2011 where three players from Victoria attended a Powerchair Football workshop in Sydney which involved other states and international players from the U.S, Japan and France. Powerchair Football was soon introduced into Powerchair Sports Victoria's programs.
Powerchair football is a dynamic and fast-paced version of football (or soccer) adapted for powerchair users. The sport is played on a standard-sized basketball court, with each team having 4 players (including a designated goal keeper) on the pitch at any one time. A match consists of two twenty-minute periods with rolling substitutions happening throughout.
Players pass, dribble and spin-kick an oversized football using a specially designed metal guard that is attached to the front of their powerchair. Athletes ‘spin’ to generate power, striking the ball with the side of the guard for the strongest hits, although often using the front bars of the guard results in a more accurate hit.
In order to create more space and a free-flowing game, two main rules have been created. The first of these is the 2 on 1 rule; in simple terms, the 2-on-1 rule means that no two players from the same team can be within 3 meters of the ball at any time on the pitch. The only player exempt from this rule is the goalkeeper, providing they remain in the goal box. The second is the three-in-a-box rule whereby the defending team may only have 2 players in the goal area at a time. In the event of a violation of the rules, a referee often awards a free kick. The game is played with an oversized football that is much heavier than conventional football to stop the ball from leaving the ground.
One of the great things about Powerchair Football is that you can start playing right away with your own wheelchair if you'd like! Most of our athletes however choose to have a sport chair completely separate from their daily life chair. Rear-wheel chairs are optimal for this sport as they provide better spin when kicking the ball. For more serious athletes, an investment in a StrikeForce would be recommended. This chair was specifically designed for Powerchair Football - by a powerchair football athlete in the United States. It spins on a dime, reacts without delay and allows players to better reach their full potential.
Bumper / Guard
Since Powerchair Football players can't use their feet to kick the ball, a footguard / bumper is attached to the front of the chair. Players then use their chairs to manipulate the ball. Guards have specific specifications in order to keep the game fair, but they can vary in design and materials. For new athletes who want to try it out, we have plastic guards we can attach to just about any chair. These are not recommended for competition play as they break easily and slow the game down, but they're perfect for anyone wanting to give it a go!