The 2017 FIPFA World Cup is finally here!! Ten countries put together their best powerchair football teams to compete for the world championship at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida! There have been two previous power soccer (as it is known in the U.S) world cups, held in Japan in 2007 and France in 2011. The United States squad took home the first two titles and look poised to challenge for their third this week.
The opening ceremonies and the first official match kicked off the week’s festivities tonight with the home team USA facing off against Denmark. The opening ceremonies featured a parade of all of the athletes, teams, and officials as well as a demonstration of the evolution of power soccer. To put it briefly, power soccer was born from the realization that while there were sports like wheelchair basketball and sled hockey for people with lower body injuries or disabilities there were not many sports or activities developed for people with full body disabilities who make use of power wheelchairs. Initially power soccer chairs were made out of regular power wheelchairs with household objects (laundry baskets were used in the demo) as guards to hit the enlarged soccer ball around the court. From there, power wheelchairs started to be specially made for power soccer and have been developed greatly over the past 10-15 years (culminating in the Strike Force powerchair now used by every World Cup athlete).
In the opening match, Team USA got their offense moving early with a goal from Jordan Dickey within the first minute. The offensive strikes continued with Dickey completing a hat-trick by half time to put the team up 5-0. Denmark’s defense played tough and made some excellent saves but it was simply not enough with so many shots put on goal by the US team.
In the second half, Denmark’s Mark Kornerup Sorensen put one into the net to try to claw their way back into the match, but the goal was called back due to excessive contact on the goalie. Other than that, USA goalie, Nathan Mayer was able to shut them down while his teammates scored three more to win 8-0. Michael Archer joined Jordan Dickey with a hat-trick while Peyton Sefick came in as a substitute in the second period and scored the final goal!
Team USA came out strong in their first match but there are still three games to be played in the group stage for both teams. All of the other teams will start their group games tomorrow and will wrap up on Friday. The top four teams from each group will move onto playoffs all day Saturday with the Championship game and placement games taking place on Sunday!
The Athletes Roll team will arrive around midday on Thursday to cover the event from then until the championship game on Sunday! We will also be chatting with fans and selling our merchandise from a booth so please come say hi if you are at the event! If not stay tuned for more updates here, on our Facebook page, and from the FIPFA World Cup event page where you can catch the livestreams, standings, and stats!