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Power soccer team looks to upgrade wheelchairs
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Justin Pressley, the founder and head coach of the NGA Screamin' Eagles, prepares to kick off during practice in Gainesville, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

As the sport of power soccer continues to grow, Hall County’s home team, the North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles, needs to grow along with it, head coach Justin Pressley said.

“We are trying to raise money for our team to allow us to upgrade our equipment to compete competitively going forward,” Pressley said.

Power soccer players use a special type of wheelchair called a strikeforce power wheelchair. It’s made with a low center-of-gravity and wide wheel base to prevent it from tipping over, and Pressley said it can range anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000, depending on all the “bells and whistles.”

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Power soccer was started specifically for people who use power wheelchairs, and it takes a lot of skill to play. Whoever is in the chair has to have the knowledge of how to use the chair to combine speed and power to hit a ball that looks like a soccer ball, but is a little larger.

They attack and defend just like a typical game of soccer, but this game is played on a basketball court with teams of four. They also add a spin-kick, which is exactly what it sounds like. The player spins his chair and kicks the ball with the ball guard near his feet.

“Our team is trying to raise money to be able to upgrade our equipment to these strikeforce chairs,” Pressley said.

While Pressley said the team is definitely accepting donations for the upgrade, he is also looking for a more long-term investor to help with a new chair he is developing that he hopes will soon be able to replace the strikeforce chair.

“I’m working with a wheelchair manufacturer to create a competitor to the strikeforce chair in hopes of one day selling it to the power soccer world,” Pressley said.

Having the ability to create this chair and offer it at a better price than the strikeforce power wheelchair is important for Pressley. But giving people with disabilities the chance to compete in an organized sport is what encourages him to seek donations and an investor to make it all happen.

“It increases cardiovascular strength, it increases communication and it helps with self-efficacy through peer support,” Pressley said. “It helps a lot in that aspect, teaching people what is possible.”