SWINDON Rockets powerchair football club are hoping to serve up a feast of powerchair football on a regular basis following last weekend’s inaugural annual tournament.
The Rockets, who play in the Championship Division of the Wheelchair Football Association National League, invited Reading and Watford-based outfit Evergreen to the Oasis leisure centre last Saturday for a round robin tournament, with the hosts entering two sides into the competition.
Following the group stage, the hosts’ Challenger side beat Reading 1-0 to claim third place whilst the more experienced Apollo team took the tournament crown, beating Evergreen 2-1 on penalties after the two sides had played out a goalless draw.
“We always go away to play games against other sides and we decided that it was about time that we held our own tournament,” said the Rockets’ welfare officer and coach Kay Wilson.
“We split ourselves into two sides, with the players with a lot more experience going in to the Apollo side and the players that are less experienced playing for the Challenger side.
“We have a side in the national league and there are a lot of teams but we travel up to Nottingham around six times a year for games and there isn’t really that much competitive action.
“We do have a side in a regional league too but we have to travel over to Essex because we’re a part of a South East division – hopefully there’ll be a South West league sometime soon.
“It was good to have other teams come to us and it’s something that we’re planning to try and do every year.
“We may well hold it at a different time of the year in future though because there were a few people unavailable because they were away on holiday.”
Powerchair football is played using specialised wheelchairs and teams comprise of three outfield players and a goalkeeper.
As well as last weekend’s competitive action, the Rockets, who train once a week at Nova Hreod School, also held a taster session for potential new players.
Wilson said: “We wanted to give people the chance to see what the game was like and we spoke to two people who said that they wanted to come and train with us.
“The rules are slightly different to normal football because there are only three players, apart from the goalkeepers, and you can’t have two players tackling another if it’s outside of the goalmouth.
“The powerchairs can cost in excess of £5000 and although it’s not a contact sport, you do get bumps, so we encourage people not to use the chairs that they use to get themselves around in everyday life. “A lot of players are suffering with a disability but we have boys and girls who play – our youngest player is ten and are oldest are in their 40s.”