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December 26, 2018

Power Soccer Heads to Austin, Texas

By
Corey Brooks
STRAPS

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a power soccer clinic hosted by representatives from the newly formed Power Soccer Development Group (PSDG) with hopes of starting a new team. The clinic was held on Saturday, November 3rd on a sunny afternoon in Austin, Texas which neighbors my home in San Antonio. As always this clinic was great - full of smiles, laughter, and athletic accomplishment, some of which the first for many of the kids at the clinic. 

This was more than just a 3-hour clinic. It was really a journey towards something that as many of the athletes there said "Was a long time coming." From the time we first introduced the idea of having a power soccer clinic, many of the athletes were constantly saying that they have been waiting for years to participate in power soccer. 

One of the athletes at the clinic, Jennifer Cleveland, first heard about power soccer three years ago when she attended a power soccer clinic in San Antonio. Cleveland had been trying to start a power soccer team herself since that day, but could just never get it going. There has in fact been power soccer interest from a number of disabled people living in the Austin area.

Austin itself has long been a hub of adaptive sports in Texas with over 10 adaptive sports across multiple adaptive sports programs. Some of the athletes like Gavin Bell had participated in one of these programs such as the Miracle League, which works to provide disabled people of all types with the opportunity to play baseball. For many athletes like Gavin, as fun as it may be, baseball was not competitive enough as its function is only to be for fun. For these athletes, the day of the clinic was truly something special and the athletes and their families were constantly telling us how appreciative they were. Many of these athletes like Jennifer and Gavin also show remarkable skill for what little experience they had in sports. 

Every athlete that attended quickly learned how to maneuver their chair, dribble the ball and showed real potential for the years to come. Beyond skill and appreciation, there was also a real sense of pride in both the athletes and their parents who are now able to play a sport or cheer for their child on the court -  something that may have seemed impossible. I have had experience with clinics before, but this clinic seemed different in that there was a real sense of something coming to fruition that had been sought after for so long by so many. It was definitely a pleasure to be a part of the clinic along with the others from PSDG (who I must say do great things) and be involved with something that will bring so much to the people from Austin and even Texas as a whole. 

Lastly, as someone from a neighboring city, I am so excited to see what the future holds for power soccer in Austin and if this clinic can bolster enough interest in other promising power soccer cities like Dallas. Maybe this clinic will be the beginning of a wave of inclusivity that will envelope all those in Texas and neighboring states and even countries who are in power wheelchairs and allow them to finally complete in the beautiful game of (power) soccer.

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