UH power soccer tournament gives players with muscular problems a playing field

UH power soccer tournament gives players with muscular problems a playing field

Juan Campos makes the long drive from Mexico to play in a power soccer tournament this weekend at the University of Houston.

“I’ve never been to another country before, so it’s a blessing to be here and I’m excited to play with the teams here,” he said.

The 18-year-old was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that weakens the muscles.

It became apparent around the age of 4 when he began to have difficulty running and climbing stairs. At 9, she needed a walker. And within six months, he was dependent on a wheelchair.

Power soccer is the only competitive team sport for power wheelchair users, particularly athletes with muscle-wasting conditions. The teams have the opportunity to compete without advantages or special treatment.

“I always tried sports since I was young, but this sport was not like other adapted sports. Adrenaline is unlike any other typical sport and it’s great to know that a team sport like this exists.” Campos said. “It’s an essential part of my life.”

the The tournament was held on Saturday and Sunday at the University of Houston Recreation and Wellness Center.. Four teams participated: two from Mexico, one from San Antonio and one from Houston.

It was organized by a team of University of Houston students taking a class called adaptive sports management, taught by Michael Cottingham, associate professor of human health and performance and director of adaptive sports at the University of Houston.

Students participate in various adaptive sporting events and help teams throughout the year to earn a grade. Organizing this tournament was a task that took almost three months of planning.

“I didn’t know this was a thing. I didn’t know there were sports like this, so I’m very grateful to have the experience to be able to do this,” said Aolani Wheeler, a sophomore at UH.

Wheeler, the event’s lead coordinator, said she was proud to see the teams compete with passion and energy as their families cheered from the sidelines.

“The reason that adaptive sports are so beneficial to communities is because it shows that people who use wheelchairs are not frail, delicate, incapable or inferior,” he said.

On the pitch, each team fielded four players, including a goalkeeper.

That was Kirsten Passmore’s work, one in which she says it took her five years to get exceptionally good.

“I was probably the worst goalkeeper the world has ever seen. It took me a while to get better,” Passmore said. “I’ve been playing for eight years, probably about three years ago I started being good at my job.”

Passmore plays for the houston power football team and has cerebral palsy, a disease that affects his motor skills and balance. She also has a visual impairment which can affect the way she plays.

He said power soccer is for people who have muscle-weakening conditions and can’t participate in most adaptive sports, like wheelchair basketball or tennis.

“Some activities for people with disabilities give out participation medals, but it feels good to have winners and losers and you are expected to participate,” he said. “It’s like any other sport.”

The Houston Power Soccer program was founded in 2010 by clinical social worker Diane Muller at Texas Children’s Hospital. Muller manages it together with Kirsten’s mother, Amy Passmore.

His hope is to play enough games to qualify and compete in the national tournament in June.

“I invite everyone to keep their sympathy in the parking lot when they come to a game,” said Steve Everett, president of the US Power Soccer Association.

Everett has competed in wheelchair tennis at the national level, receiving bronze and gold medals throughout his career.

He was born with arthrogyposis, a bone disease that prevents parts of the body from fully developing, such as hands and feet.

Now travel and support players in power soccer tournaments. He said it’s important for fans to see the athletes, rather than their medical conditions.

“Slowly but surely, what happens is the chair itself starts to disappear and the athlete stands out,” Everett said. “That’s the beauty of this sport.”

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