The Premier Cup: New Chairs and New Abilities
August 20th, 2012
by Lateef McLeod
Above: Ed McGuire in a Strike Force power wheelchair.
This year presented a new opportunity for my team, the BORP Bay Earthquakes, to compete in Power Soccer’s Premier Cup. Using power wheelchairs, power soccer’s top teams compete nationally each year in the Premier Cup, hosted by the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA). The winner claims the title “Best in the Country.” My team, the formerly sixth ranked BORP Bay Earthquakes, traveled to Tampa, Florida this year to play, and it was something to see how the upgrades in some team’s equipment improved their play. You could really see this on the field, and I watched quite a few fast-paced and action packed match-ups.
Early on, I noticed that most teams used the Quickie P200 power wheelchair, which is a very effective chair to use for power soccer. The strong metal guard on the P200 means a player can kick far and lightening fast with excellent accuracy. Quite a few players in the tournament used these chairs and, until this year, they were thought to be the best in the sport. Ironically, the P200 is also one of the oldest power wheelchairs on the market. They even stopped producing the chair at one point since the model was a decade old. However, because of the increased demand due to power soccer, the Quickie P200 is once again on the market.
This year though, a new power soccer chair splashed on the scene, and it was something to see. I knew something was up when, in one of the crucial games, the Minnesota Magics scored three goals to nil on the former Premier champions, Atlanta Synergy. A closer look at the team and their equipment revealed that four of Minnesota’s players were rolling in the Strike Force power wheelchair. Made by the Power Soccer Shop, this fast and sleek chair enabled the Minnesota players to kick the power soccer ball harder than I have ever seen anyone in a chair kick a ball. The Magic’s players only had to make one to two passes in front of the goal before the opposition’s defenses collapsed, allowing them to score. It was a thoroughly awe-inspiring performance by a very young team that ended up dominating the two-time Premier champions, the Circle City Rollers, in the championship game 5 to 1.
The Strike Force power wheelchair is definitely set to change the game of power soccer. With a base price of $5,000, which includes a foot guard, it is vastly cheaper and more powerful than the other sports wheelchairs these days. I can attest that skilled power soccer athletes can get in the Strike Force and operate it in no time. When I tried it out in Tampa, I was amazed at how fast it maneuvered. It felt like g-force speeds. I was able to kick extremely hard and with almost pinpoint accuracy. The chair’s relative inexpensiveness means that more people can buy it and play this sport at a high performance level.
Ed McGuire, who works for the Power Soccer Shop and also plays for another Minnesota team called the Courage Blizzards, had this to say about the Strike Force chair, “I love my Strike Force chair. It is the perfect summation of all my past experiences. The Strike Force is the most nimble and instant reacting chair I have ever driven. After seeing a Quickie P200 player drive the Strike Force for the first time, I realized how naturally the chair allows the player to articulate it. When you take away the need to mentally compensate for the chair’s shortcomings, you take away the chair. You take away the chair; you take away the disability. All you are left with is a player.” Ed’s team, the Courage Blizzards, also won the lower conference President’s Cup with players in mostly Strike Force chairs.
With power soccer equipment being more accessible to the public, the sport will inevitably grow in the states and internationally. The Power Soccer Shop is already getting orders from all around the world for the Strike Force power wheelchair, and the requests are sure to grow once word spreads about how they influenced this year’s Premier and Presidents Cups. We can clearly see that this equipment can help make a team into an unstoppable force. New equipment and innovations will always have the potential to greatly influence how the game of power soccer is played. Hopefully this innovation will create greater access for more people with disabilities to participate in this sport and feel the joy that playing power soccer brings.
For my previous post, The Joys of Power Soccer, see: http://ucpgg.org/lateefs-view-of-the-bay/2010/09/28/the-joys-of-power-soccer.
That is my view of the Bay.