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April 29, 2019

Why I Got My Child Involved with Power Soccer

Kelly Bertsch

Since our son, Luke, was first diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of 23 months, my husband and I grieved frequently of the opportunities that would be lost for Luke as he is not able to stand or walk, his muscles already weak and atrophied, and his bones fragile. We knew we would support him no matter what he wanted to do in life, but it was important to us to make sure that we treated him no differently than his older, able-bodied brother.

Luke quickly got moving once he got a power wheelchair at the age of 3 and it's been hard to slow him down since. He wanted to do everything other kids were doing. He played T-ball and loved it. Then we tried challenger league, still a great experience, however, Luke quickly became bored with it, as it wasn't competitive enough for him. We had heard about power soccer, but weren't sure if Luke would have an interest. When Luke was 5, we saw that Team USA was having a few practices near us coming up and decided to go to watch one of the open practices. It was there that Luke rolled in and as we watched for a couple of minutes, he asked if it was his turn to play yet. He wanted to play that day, right then.

We waited until he was of age to play a year later and looked into getting him involved. We started a recreational team, just to have him learn rules, controlling the ball, etc. He was a part of that team for 2 years until we relocated and we found a competitive team he could play on. He has been playing in his first games this year with his new team and is loving it.

So why did we get our child involved in power soccer?

  1. Accountability. To learn to work as a part of a team, to rely on others and for others to rely on him and for him to be held accountable to those teammates.
  2. Commitment. To learn that when you sign up for something, you are committed and will see your commitment through. To be a "boy of his word".
  3. Challenge. To learn that when things get hard, you get upset, or things don't go as planned, you push through and not quit, you never give up.
  4. Respect. To learn to have respect for yourself and for others by learning how to be a humble when winning and satisfied and encouraging when losing. How we react says a lot about us as individuals.
  5. Acceptance. To learn that all people are different in their abilities, but that does not make him or them less. To embrace people's differences and celebrate in their talents.
  6. Fun. To learn to have fun and although there are times to focus and pay attention, to also have fun in what you do.
  7. Self-esteem. To improve his self-esteem. We want him to make and acknowledge his accomplishments and take some pride in doing so.
  8. Friendships. To make and strengthen friendships. Camaraderie. To have a common interest with those friends. To have friends that also understand him, understand some of the challenges he faces, friends he can relate to.
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