Written by Dani McGovern
Thu, 23 Aug 2012
Midlands United Power Soccer
Mindland's United - Back row from left: Mike Donogher (Assistant Coach), Catherine Donogher and Mary Duignan (Coach). Front row from left: Aoife McNicholl, Emmett Daly, John McGovern, Thomas Donogher, Dani McGovern, Sean Donogher and Emer O'Sullivan. Miss

Midlands United Power Soccer

The relatively new sport of power soccer is really taking off in Ireland, writes Dani McGovern, who plays with one of Ireland's most successful clubs, Midlands United.

The Midlands power soccer team, known as 'Midlands United', was set up in 2009 with the help of Mary Duignan and Claire Grehan, both of whom are still heavily involved in the club on a voluntary basis. The club has eight players from all over the midlands area who train on a weekly basis. In the short time the club has been in action it has achieved great succes. In the first year, Midlands United took home both the league and All Ireland Cup titles. Last year the team were runners up in the league and they currently hold this year's league title. And now, as Spokeout goes to press, we are delighted to report that the team has also just won the 2012 All Ireland Cup!

All in all, Midlands United has had an exciting 12 months, with three new players joining the squad, taking home The Abbie Byrne Memorial Cup and of course not forgetting the three Midlands players who were selected to be part of the Irish team as they embarked on Ireland's first ever power football World Cup journey, which took place in Paris from 3rd-6th November 2011. The players took part in trials in January 2011 and were selected along with four others from around the country. The squad began training in February 2011 in chairs specifically designed for power soccer. These chairs offer a lot more speed and stamina than the usual chairs, but they are very expensive and many players in regional teams can't afford them. The guards alone cost €300, for example, and these costs are currently the biggest problem facing the sport of power soccer. The Irish team placed ninth overall after their win over Switzerland in their final match. Each player gave a great performance and showed pride in representing their country.

Power soccer, also known as power chair football, is a relatively new sport in Ireland, formally introduced just over three years ago under the FAI. It has grown nationally and now has its own national body, The Association of Irish Power Chair Football (AIPF). It is a sport designed for power chair users and is displayed indoors on a basketball-sized court. Teams have four players on the court at any one time and sub in accordingly. Oval shaped guards are attached to each chair acting as the players 'feet' to hit and control the ball. The ball used is three times the size of an average football, preventing it from sliding under any of the chairs. It is 20 minutes a half and the rules are the same as mainstream football, with one or two additional rules to suit the sport.

Currently a number of teams are established throughout the country, including Dublin, Kerry, Meath, Limerick / Clare, Belfast and the Midlands. We all compete against each other in a yearly league and Cup. All teams are mixed gender and ages.

From a player's point of view, power soccer is a great sport to be involved in. It has the social aspect meeting new players from all over the country but also it helps to build a players confidence, self-esteem, skills, abilities and sense of belonging to a team. It provides great opportunities for power chair users to get involved in sports that they might otherwise not be able to take part in at a competetive level. I have been playing since 2009 and it has given me lots of opportunities including the opportunity to represent my country!

If you feel power soccer may be the sport for you, find your nearest club on www.aipf.ie