By Shelby Brooks
For people who use powerchairs for daily mobility, an organisation like Powerchair Sports Victoria can be lifechanging.
Just ask the club president Luke David.
“Sport has been my biggest passion in life and I don’t think I realised that until I got more involved with Powerchair Sports Victoria,” he said.
Luke has been playing powerchair sports since 2015 when he first saw a demonstration at a Muscular Dystrophy Australia camp.
“As soon as I saw it, I was hooked,” he said.
“I think I have only missed three or four rounds since starting in 2005 and I honestly don’t know where I would be today without powerchair sports in my life.”
The organisation focusses on two main sports within the powerchair field; powerchair football (soccer) and powerchair hockey.
Powerchair hockey is an adaption of floorball for powerchair users.
The sport is played on an indoor basketball court with two teams of five players and players with very limited range and movement can mount or tape a plastic T-shaped stick to the front of their powerchair which is then used to hit the ball.
Other athletes may use a light-weight floorball stick.
The ball can’t go higher than 20cm off the ground and the aim is to get it in the 20cm high and 250cm wide goal and there is a speed limit on the powerchairs, no chair can go faster than 15km/h.
During the pandemic, the organisation lost access to the venue in Croydon where they played powerchair hockey for 20 years.
“It was a very difficult time to be trying to find a new venue that worked for all of our players, that could store our equipment and also have the availability for us,” Luke said.
“Our committee reached out to Pakenham Floorball Club who forwarded us information about the Officer Community Hub.
“It was a great facility to be at on Saturday, the staff were fantastic, the court was perfect. We are very grateful for the support given to us by Officer Community Hub and Pakenham Floorball Club.”
The first social game of powerchair hockey was played in Officer on Saturday 24 April, after 566 days of not being able to play.
“It was fantastic, so great to see all of our players smiling and playing hockey again. We were exhausted pretty quickly so not playing for a year and a half definitely showed,” Luke said.
Currently the organisation has about 17 players, with a wider membership of volunteers, parents, family, friends.
“It has definitely grown over the past few years which is great,” Luke said.
“We have always struggled to get the word out about our organisation and the sporting opportunities available for people. We are making progress but we are all volunteers here and limited resources makes it a challenge, but we are up for it.”
Powerchair sports can be social or competitive,
“We have some players who are just there to have fun, meet new people and be a part of a community,” Luke said.
“The other half are there to really compete, make the Victorian team or push for international selection.”
But it’s not just about the sport.
“It’s a perfect way for people in similar situations, that face the same challenges as us to be a part of a community and team,” Luke said.
“It’s also a great way to make friends, improve life skills and you meet some amazing people along the way. If there is anyone out there that is hesitant or a bit nervous to join in, I highly recommend for people to just come down and check it out. It is so much more than just what is seen on video or images.”
For more information, head to psv.org.au.