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North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles wheelchair soccer team is ready for showdown

POSTED: March 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Tyler Farmer controls the ball as he works out with the North Georgia Screamin' Eagles power wheelchair team in January.

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David Beckham may be one of the best and most well-known soccer players in the world, but how well would he play if he couldn’t use his legs?

The North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles could give him a few pointers. This group of eight guys takes part in power wheelchair soccer, which like traditional soccer requires teamwork, strength and commitment to training in order to be successful. Unlike traditional soccer, the Screamin’ Eagles are equipped with guards to cover their feet, an oversized ball and wheelchairs.

The North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles are only one of four power wheelchair soccer teams in Georgia, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing as much as they can. The team, which has been together for a year, has played teams from Alabama, Florida, Missouri and Indiana, and currently competes about once a month.

However, the moment the players have been waiting and training so hard for is now. The North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles will battle it out with the Atlanta Shepherd Strikers at 10:15 a.m. today at the Suwanee Sports Academy in Northeast Atlanta. The regional tournaments are scheduled for today and Saturday, and will consist of 18 teams coming from 13 cities. The tournament, which will combine both Division 1 and Division 2 teams, and is open to spectators.

The Eastern Regional Power Soccer tournament is hosted this year by the Fernando Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Jim and Nancy Dornan of Alpharetta.

The Fernando Foundation has supported the U.S. Power Soccer Association to help more than 30 teams start playing soccer, and it is also one of the main reasons that these players have been able to compete at national and international levels.

Jerry Frick, the director of community services for the Fernando Foundation, states that last year there were 14 teams, which has now grown to 18. There also were new rules adopted after the World Cup in Japan, in which Team USA brought home the title.

Frick says power soccer is "growing a lot faster and becoming more mainstream. There is now more organization with the (U.S. Power Soccer Association), and they are working with international organizations."

Frick states that more teams have been popping up over the years, and there may be two new teams in Georgia after June.

Power soccer has not only brought the Screamin’ Eagles together, but it has become a sport that is teaching discipline, teamwork and confidence to players with disabilities all around the world. For more details, visit www.powersoccerusa.com.



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