While the Western Sydney Wanderers are playing out their last few games of the 2014-15 Hyundai A-League season, for another team in Red & Black the season is only just beginning.
The Western Sydney Wanderers Powerchair team will soon participate in their third competitive season in the PFA NSW Western Sydney division alongside familiar A-League opponents such as Sydney FC, as they look to take home the silverware with their first division title.
Powerchair football is a variation on football in which two teams of four players in electric wheelchairs compete. Foot guards fitted to the chairs are used to knock the ball, which is larger than a regular football, to teammates and into the goal.
It also shares similarities with futsal and wheelchair rugby, particularly in regards to physicality – powerchair football isn’t a game for the weak. With uncompromising bumper-to-bumper action one of the drawcards of the game, powerchair football is quickly growing as an entertaining spectator sport.
Powerchair football was developed in France in the 1970s before spreading to the United States in the 1980s, eventually leading to an international meeting in Paris in 2005 with the vision of creating an international organisation and set of rules for the sport.
Two World Cups have since taken place, in Tokyo in 2007 and Paris in 2011, with the next due to be held later this year. Still, powerchair football remains a relatively new sport in Australia, with the first organised tournaments only beginning in 2010.
The Western Sydney Wanderers were among the first of the A-League clubs to be officially associated with a powerchair football team after current captain of the Wanderers and the Australian Poweroos Andy Thwaite sought to register an affiliation with the club – which he did on 8 June 2013.
Today, the four New South Wales A-League teams all compete against one another on the powerchair football court. Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets, and Sydney FC all play in the same competition as the Wanderers, the PFA NSW Western Sydney division.
The Wanderers finished last in the 2014 competition but will be hoping for better luck this season. Players will be spurred on by large and vocal support from members of the Red & Black Bloc. The fans first appeared on the sidelines during a 3-1 loss to the Newcastle Jets, and have not only continued to support the team at games but also made donations to help pay for equipment and training costs.
In October, the Kevin Betts Stadium in Mount Druitt will host the 2015 Powerchair Football National Championships which will feature players from the Wanderers, their NSW Western Sydney division rivals and the best powerchair footballers in Australia.
02 Andy WAITE (C)
04 Ben KEYTE
05 Jacob CROSS
06 Alex SCOLLARD
08 Peter DALRYMPLE
COACH AND TRAINING STAFF