Indomitable Soccer Dream Comes True with New Power Chair
The beautiful game brings joy to people around the world, creates new connections every time a ball is passed, and ignites a fire within every fan, competitor, and friend of the game.
On Tuesday morning, the pure joy that comes from just taking to the pitch was on full display when Michael W. was presented with a brand-new power soccer chair, thanks to the incredible team at Make-A-Wish and the Sacramento Republic FC Foundation.
Michael battles Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, but his determination and indomitable spirt make him a force on the power soccer pitch. The sport is played in on a standard-sized basketball court. Each team is allowed 4 players on the court at one time, including the goalkeeper. A match consists of two 20-minute periods.
"I never thought I could play a sport and then my friend told me about Power Soccer," said Michael. "I've been playing for a few months and have already been asked to go to the National Conference."
Michael joined the Sac Valley Flames, coached by Margo Roeckl, last December, and hasn't looked back. He's one of the club's goalkeepers who were preparing to head to Conference Cup Series in Fort Wayne, Indiana originally scheduled for this June, yet to be postponed due to the pandemic. Micheal's first chair was a rental, and didn't have the same speed, force and sharpness that his competitors have.
But on Tuesday, Michael and his teammates joined Republic FC at the club's training grounds for a special surprise. With Republic FC players and leadership on staff, the group got to talk about the game they all love, and learn more about the ways it can be played. Although the Flames may not have been able to compete this season, they did make some new friends and fans. And just before the day ended, the club surprised Michael with his own Heritage Kit, and rolled out a brand-new power chair. With a new chair at the ready, Michael was already to take on the competition and defend the goal.
"Michael has a true passion for soccer and this has been something that's really given him so much passion in life, you know, especially in the last year and a half," Jennifer Stolo, the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Northern California and Northern Nevada.
That passion was on display as Michael stopped shot after shot from Republic FC winger Villyan Bijev. His new chair, replacing his rental chair, gave him the speed to cover the net - forwards and backwards - and the force to snap passes back to the crowd cheering him on.
"What he overcomes along with his teammates at the flames, their outlook is incredibly positive, they come together as a team, we can all learn from that. We can all relate to that," said Republic FC President and COO Ben Gumpert. "Soccer is played in every corner of the world and in every corner of Sacramento -- diversity of background... diversity of situation... you name it. Everybody can play."
After a mini-training session in his new chair with Bijev, Michael sent a message to his future opponents. With the region's press corps in attendance, Michael warned all of the other power soccer players who compete "You're not going to get anything in."
To learn more about power soccer and to follow the Sac Valley Flames when they resume play, visit PowerSoccerUSA.org.
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