Greenbank Powerchair star, Ellie Curran is a first team player for Liverpool’s local power football side. She is a passionate advocate and representative of the sport and has been accredited by the FA for completing her introduction to coaching powerchair football course, FA Safeguarding Adults Certificate, Disability Football Introduction, and EE Playmaker by England Football. As well as these personal accolades, she has been vocal in her support for the support she has become so heavily involved with.
Powerchair football, or “power football”, is a sport that enables people of all ages and genders with physical disabilities to play competitively with their specially designed powered wheelchairs. These powerchairs are essentially motorized wheelchairs with a modified bumper to allow players to kick/hit an enlarged football. The sport usually takes place on a basketball court rather than a football pitch.
The rules are fairly similar to standard football matches bar a few key exceptions. The goalposts consist of two upright posts (typically pylons or cones) and there is no crossbar. The ball itself is larger than a regulation football, with the powerchair ball measuring 33cm in diameter, compared to the regular 22cm. The rules also allow for contact between chairs.
The sport has soared in popularity in recent years and gains more and more recognition every year. The Final of the domestic cup, the WFA Cup, is televised on TNT Sports and the recent Power Football World Cup held in Sydney had record-breaking viewers. England finished as runners-up behind France.
Greenbank Power Football Club are based at Greenbank Sports Academy in Aigburth, on the outskirts of Liverpool. They currently play in the WFA National League Championship, the second tier of the pyramid. There are 12 teams in the division making it a 22-match season with promotion and relegation.
Clearly given the physical and technical challenges for the players, it is a unique sport that provides sporting opportunities for sportspeople with high levels of disability, but Curran, says there is still so much more work that needs to be done.
“A dominant perception in society is that disabled people are inherently less able than non-disabled individuals. We are often depicted as victims, suffering from medical conditions, something is wrong, or we have some sort of deficiency. Treating disability as simply a medical “problem” is the reason why most disabled people remain one of the most marginalised groups.
“As the social model of disability highlights, we are disabled by social, structural, and attitudinal barriers. Stigmatising assumptions surrounding disability are reflected and reinforced in medical practice. This transpires into notions of dependency, pity, stereotyping, exclusion and sympathy within society, and these intense feelings towards disability give rise to inaccessible spaces and negative attitudes that hinder social change.”
Despite the growth in popularity the sport lacks financial backing, significant media exposure was always going to be a challenge.
“As we are the only Power Football Club in Liverpool, we feel as though our club is entitled to much more recognition than we receive, in terms of attracting new players and seeking for sponsorship that we so desperately need.”
“The Greenies” have got off to a flying start this season and are currently the only team in the Championship to take maximum points from their first 4 fixtures. A resounding 0-7 thrashing at Nottingham Forest PFC, a 1-3 win against Sale United PFC, a 0–3 win vs Villa Rockets Lions and a 3-0 home victory against Norwich City PFC. As of last weekend they are unbeaten in 8 games with 7 wins and a draw, a close encounter with Leeds Dynamos.
Liam Ashton, Jacob Buch-Platt, and Luke Kelly make up the top 3 goalscorers in the Division. Now they hope to continue their unbeaten run against Muscle Warriors PFC, Nottingham Forest PFC, Sale United PFC, and WBA Dudley. Joint top of the table not surprisingly Greenbank PFC have promotion ambitions.