7 December 2021
By Tom Collins
The Association of Irish Powerchair Football seeks to raise €100,000 to support 25 person delegation including coaching staff, players and carers
Following the postponement of the 2021 FIPFA Powerchair Football World Cup due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a fundraising campaign has been initiated to facilitate the participation of Irish athletes in the rescheduled World Cup in Australia in October 2022.
Having won the bronze medal at the EPFA European Nations Cup in 2019, Team Ireland officially qualified for the World Cup set to take place in Sydney’s Olympic Park. The FIPFA World Cup is an international tournament celebrating the sport of Powerchair Football, an inclusive, adapted form of soccer played by disabled persons that use wheelchairs or have severe physical impairments.
Participation in the tournament is expected to be a significant undertaking for the Association of Irish Powerchair Football (AIPF), with a delegation of twenty-five set to travel to Australia including eight players, coaching staff, and a support team of player assistants and carers, with costs expected to reach €100,000.
Powerchair Football is a mixed gender team sport. Played on an indoor court, similar in size to a basketball court, matches consist of two teams of four players and a ball, replete with skill, strategy, and passion, much like regular soccer.
“The role of the AIPF is to organise social and competitive playing opportunities for players and their families, ensuring that the sport is as accessible as possible for all who want to take part. Players’ experiences of muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and other conditions bring them together, building community and purpose around a shared love of sport,”
said AIPF Chairman Donal Lawlor.
Operating under the remit of the international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Powerchair Football Association (FIPFA), headquartered in Paris, France, the global game is played with standardised rules and adheres to an established constitution. Currently, around two dozen countries have teams involved in the sport.
“Our goal has always been to represent Ireland at the highest level and we have finally earned the opportunity to do so. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire other disabled people in Ireland that they too can achieve great things on a global stage. The lack of government funding has been a long-standing issue that is now impacting our ability to take a team to the World Cup. To get to this point we have had to sacrifice money from our own pockets and rely on donors and well-wishers for financial support, which has not been easy,”
added Donal Lawlor.
The AIPF is looking to raise approximately €100,000, 100% of which will go towards covering expenses incurred by the Irish Powerchair Football team. These costs include flights, accommodation, food, kits and transporting playing equipment such as the powerchairs.