When the first International Power Soccer World Cup competition takes place in Japan in October, a slate of superstar athletes, many with neuromuscular diseases, will ably represent the United States.
|Team USA athletes are training hard for the World Soccer Cup in Japan.|
Power soccer pits two teams of eight players against each other on an indoor basketball court. Each player maneuvers a power wheelchair with a metal footguard attached to the front to rapidly shift, block and score with a 13-inch ball.
Team USA’s 12 members (four will stand by as alternates) are the “crème de la crème” of U.S. power soccer players. They played on hometown teams across and even outside the country for years — often competing against each other — before being selected for this first world-class competition.
Eight of the power team’s members are registered with MDA. Two are brothers; two are brother and sister; and one is a member of MDA’s National Task Force on Public Awareness, Elio Navarro, 27, of Tampa, Fla.
“Power soccer is the ultimate challenge,” he said. “It forces me physically and mentally to reach levels I never knew I could attain.” A senior computer software developer, Navarro has spinal muscular atrophy.
World Cup dates are Oct. 8-13 in Tokyo, and Team USA is honing its skills with intense last-minute practices in cities across the country. They’ll be formidable opponents, with a nation of supporters behind them. Visit the team Web site at www.powersoccerusa.net.
See personal profiles and photos of other Team USA players.