Ausnew Home Care | Australia's Poweroos have the best player in the court — now they're set on Powerchair Football World Cup glory

Australia's Poweroos have the best player in the court — now they're set on Powerchair Football World Cup glory

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Using just his left foot, Abdullah Karim is one of the best powerchair footballers in the world.

He and fellow squad members of the Australian national team, the Poweroos, are competing in the Sydney-based Powerchair Football World Cup against athletes from nine other countries across four continents.

Despite being awarded the best player at the last world cup in 2017 in the United States, the right winger has a bigger accolade in his sights.

"I'm not here to prove myself to be the world's best. We're here to win the cup and that's what we're gonna do."

How does powerchair football work?

members of the australian team at the at the powerchair football world cup in sydney
The powerchair world cup is underway in Sydney, and Australian athletes are being ranked among the best. ()

The games are played over 40 minutes and see teams of four players strike the ball with an extended frame attached to motorised wheelchairs that are directed with a joystick.

Using the frames, teams try and hit the ball into the goal.

The ball is also bigger than a standard-size football to adjust to the frames used by players.

The sport's inclusive approach sets it apart from other versions of football, with players of any gender playing on the same team.

Powerchair athlete Bec Evans on the court
Bec Evans wants to encourage more women into the sport.()

Bec Evans is the first woman to represent Australia at a powerchair world cup and one of six women playing across the tournament.

"It's still male-dominated," she said.

"Something that I try to work towards is increasing female representation in the sport to try to encourage all females to get involved in powerchair."

Empowering players to achieve on and off the court

Ms Evans was born with Nemaline Myopathy, a muscular condition.

It primarily affects her lung muscles and she uses a ventilator daily.

Powerchair wasn't a game she grew up playing, but when she started, she was immediately hooked.

It has helped her do things she never thought including living independently and working part time.

"Powerchair football did definitely help my life path.

"Before that I honestly had thought the family home was my only option, but then speaking to the other players who had already moved out and were living independently.

"It gave me the motivation and the confidence to [think] yeah I can actually do that too."

an australian player with dreadlocks on court at the powerchair football world cup in sydney
Dimitri Liolio-Davis credits the sport with giving him a purpose.()

For captain and veteran of the game Dimitri Liolio-Davis he, like many, credits the sport with giving him a purpose.

"This is the one sport that allows us to feel free and forget about all the things that we deal with in everyday life.

"Playing football against each other it's a great relief and a really good freedom."

Push to join the Paralympic Games

Chris Hastas is undertaking a PhD in philosophy which is looking at how powerchair impacts the identity of people with a disability.

He believes the sport is shifting how people with a disability see themselves, and how they are perceived.

Christopher hastas powerchair phd
Chris Hastas says the sport is shifting views on disabilities. ()

"Often the way people can perceive disability can be quite negative," he said.

"As they come and watch this sport people can see 'Oh wow people can do, much the same as anybody else', and this sport is a way of maybe, showing that."

He hopes that reaching more spectators without a disability is only possible with more exposure at large para sport events.

a woman inside the Sydney Olympic Park's Quaycentre cheers the australian team at the powerchair football world cup
Players want to see the sport included at the Brisbane Paralympic Games in 2032.()

Mr Karim has his sights on the 2032 Brisbane games.

"We want the sport to obviously be in the Paralympics," he said.

He is eager to compete, so much so that he said the nine-year timeline for the Queensland event is not a deterrent — even if it means he'll be on the court when he's 41.

"If it comes to Australia by 2032, in the Paralympics, I might consider coming back."


Source: ABC

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