Floreat Athena adds power to wheelchair soccer competition

Floreat Athena board member Con Poulios, powerchair football players Dylan Needham, Justin Lattaway and Aidan Jones and club board member Sam Albanis.
Floreat Athena board member Con Poulios, powerchair football players Dylan Needham, Justin Lattaway and Aidan Jones and club board member Sam Albanis.

Floreat Athena Football Club is helping to expand WA’s Powerchair Football league.

The Mt Hawthorn-based club will form a team to play in the 2020 season of the competition, which is played at Loftus Recreation Centre in Leederville.

Powerchair football is a modified version of soccer played by people who rely on electric wheelchairs for daily mobility.

WA Powerchair Football Association coach Justin Lattaway said the chairs used were “insane”.

“They’re quick, they spin really fast and these boys don’t have so much strength, so they have to get their hands strapped down and harnessed in there because of the G-force that’s involved,” he said.

“So yeah there is a bit of rumble and tumble.”

The non-contact, tactical sport sees players using foot guards attached to their wheelchairs to push, hit and spin kick the ball.

It was played in France in the 1970s before starting in Australia in 2011 and in 2017, Australia finished fourth in the World Cup competition.

Dylan Needham has been playing the sport for the past five years and said it allowed people to compete on an even playing field no matter their disability.

“We are really excited about Floreat Athena getting involved and it will help us out at our local competition” he said.

“We really hope that it helps some of our local players to feed into the State team and playing for their country.

“It gives us a more professional feel and we’re here to play football.”

Player Aidan Jones said it had given him a new lease on life.

“Teaming up with Floreat Athena gives me a lot of hope because when I first went into my wheelchair I wasn’t very motivated and I didn’t want to do anything,” he said.

“And then I found a sport, that I can represent (one day) my country.”

Club spokesman Peter Kapsanis said joining the association was one of more than 30 community programs it had established in the past three years.

“Football is our core business but we want to tap into as many community aspects around us to ensure that our facility whether it is the football pitch or our clubrooms here at Litis Stadium, are utilised by as many groups and organisations as possible,” he said.

Click here for more information on the association.