Trailblazers Powerchair Football - COTM November 2023
Belfast Trailblazers Powerchair Football Club lifted the title for Club of the Month in November 2023, read on to hear more about "fast, developed and dynamic sport!".
Powerchair football is a unique, fast and dynamic sport that provides opportunities for people with a range and high level of impairment (or those who have limited movement in a manual wheelchair) to access the game of football. This inclusive adaption of the game see all ages, disabilities and genders participate together. As the name suggests, specially adapted electric/power wheelchairs are utilised by all participants, and it's actually the only active team participation sport for people who use electric wheelchairs.
So what's the sport like to play? Ruben, one of the club's participants told us:
"At the first training session I couldn't believe how fast the chairs were... It's changing people's lives, it's just class!"
The club has grown significantly since it's founding, with some players also representing the national squad. Trailerblazers and Northern Ireland coach, Michael Hilland, spoke to us about the award and the sport's wide appeal:
"To be named Club of The Month... it's massive. On the back of the inclusion award from Disability Sport NI, it showed the progressive environment that we have developed over the last number of years to bring young people and give them an opportunity and hopefully build on that."
"We have a number of players with all different disabilities. Some have muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy. So there's different forms of disability through the players."
Michael's son, Scott also plays for the Trailblazers and the national team, he told us:
"I don't think I'd be the person I am without powerchair football and this club"
He went on to say: "I love football, I’ve loved football all my life. So as soon as I got an opportunity to play the beautiful game that was it... nothing was going to stop me!"
"I take great pride in the friendships we've built, and seeing the younger players come through... It's a big honour for me to be captain."
Prospects also look fully charged for the sport's continued growth. Mark Montgomery, Comms, Training and Engagement Lead at Disability Sport Northern Ireland, who joined us at the handover shared:
"Trailblazers are a very popular club, so it's great to see them getting the recognition and profile through this Club of the Month award. DSNI are hoping to grow the sport (powerchair football) here in Northern Ireland and will be setting up a new club on the North coast to help support that."