By Eric Smith, Senda Athletics
In 2011, the United States Power Wheelchair Soccer team won its second consecutive World Cup title, making them the only U.S. soccer team in history to win back-to-back World Cups. Despite this momentous achievement, the team has not yet been invited to the White House to be honored by President Barack Obama. I truly believe that it is time for the White House to take the initiative in celebrating the dedication and achievements of athletes of all abilities representing the U.S.A.
This April, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team will visit the White House on their way to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The goal of this campaign is to seek an invitation for the U.S. Power Soccer Team to join the U.S. Men’s National Team in their visit. This is a unique opportunity for President Obama to honor both teams’ achievements together, on the world stage. Thus far, the change.org campaign to make this happen has reached nearly 1,000 supporters, and word is being spread through all of the major social media channels.
The United States won the first Power Soccer World Cup in Tokyo in 2007, defeating Belgium, England, Denmark, Japan and Portugal before beating France in a penalty shoot-out in the finals to win the cup. The team then made history when it defended its title in Paris four years later, defeating England 3-0 in the final becoming the first American soccer team to defend their title as world champions.
“Each year, winning teams in major sports in the U.S. spend time with the President; it is an honor athletes who reach the highest of milestones enjoy,” said Chris Finn, Head Coach of the U.S. team. “Considering we are the only team in U.S. history to win TWO world cups, I think it is prudent for our team to visit with the President and introduce him to our growing global sport.”
Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users. Players use these power wheelchairs to pass, defend and spin-kick a large 13-inch soccer ball in a skilled and challenging game similar to traditional soccer. Teams of four athletes compete on a regulation-sized basketball court, under rules established by the governing body of power soccer, the Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Association (FIFPA). This sport provides an unparalleled opportunity for everyone to be able to experience the magic of soccer.
As believer in sports as a tool to bring people together, I know that with the help of the White House, the U.S. Power Soccer Team can inspire millions with their accomplishments, and that President Obama has an incredible opportunity to honor this inspiring group of players.
To achieve this goal, USPSA and Senda Athletics are launching a Change.org campaign to gather 1,000 signatures of support, generate awareness for this cause and send the two-time defending World Cup champions to the White House.
For those of you on Twitter, we have created a web page that allows you to send a tweet to the people at the White House and U.S. Soccer that can make this happen.