Excitement and interest in the local powerchair football scene continues to rise as anticipation builds for the sport’s expected competitive resumption in 2021.
Queensland Powerchair Football Association (QPFA) secretary and star player Tristram Peters has been contacted by potential new participants in encouraging numbers, even with the QPFA League on temporary hiatus due to COVID-19.
The competition involves four teams that are all aligned to National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland clubs – Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, Lions FC and Moreton Bay United – and is on course to relaunch next year.
“Now that restrictions are easing and we’re returning to a bit of normality, we’re playing a number of promotional games to get back into it and have that taste of powerchair football,” Peters said.
“Thankfully we’re looking like we’ll have a terrific 2021 if things continue on the same track.
“What’s been really exciting during this time is that we’ve still been inundated with enquiries from athletes. As we’ve been a little bit more isolated, people are looking for activities. I think what we’ve seen in the last few months is how much we’ve missed that social interaction.
“When the league picks up again, it’s a wonderful opportunity to network and connect with people and make some great friends.
“Also, more than that, it’s a really competitive environment where we can also work together to improve our skills and that’s what drives a lot of us. I think that appeals to new players as well.
“Even though we’re a really friendly group, it is sport. It’s not disability sport, it’s just sport.”
Great turn out for another social hit around day. pic.twitter.com/kjwnoJCrEG
— QPFA (@qldpfa) August 15, 2020
Powerchair football, an indoor version of the sport played in modified wheelchairs, operates under the Australian Powerchair Football Association (APFA) umbrella in Australia and receives support from Football Queensland, which provides referees for the QPFA League and representative tournaments.
“In the past few years we’ve wanted to become really professional in our competition structure,” Peters said.
“We approached Football Queensland who have very kindly provided a whole host of amazing referees who are now working towards getting their FIPFA accreditation, so they will soon be able to referee international fixtures which is really exciting.
“That’s amazing for our sport because having those officials there gives it more importance and makes it feel more legitimate, which is cool.”
The international exposure for Queensland referees and the state’s top powerchair football competitors could extend to the next FIPFA World Cup, which will be held in Sydney in October 2022 after being delayed for 12 months.
Ten nations are scheduled to compete at the tournament including the Australian Poweroos, with whom Peters is a regular squad member.
“It’s every athlete’s goal to represent their country at a World Cup and even more so at a home World Cup,” he said.
“It’s definitely something I’m working towards and my team-mates are working towards as well.”
Image: Diane Conaghan