The Lundholm Gymnasium was full of smiles and charitable donations this past Saturday, March 25, as the Northeast Passage (NEP) PowerCats Power Soccer team played a game against the UNH men’s soccer team. All the money raised from this event went to the NEP power soccer division.
Power soccer, played by people who use power wheelchairs in their day-to-day lives, follows a four vs. four style with some different rules. There are two 20-minute halves. No one from the same team can be within three meters of the ball at the same time. There can only be two players from the same team in the goal area with one of them being the goalkeeper. There are no offside rules, but all other rules of soccer still apply.
The men’s soccer team did not fare too well, losing the first half 18-0. In the second half, the teams were mixed with the “blue” team which consisted of two NEP players and two men’s soccer players taking the half 3-0.
Before the game, Alex Valencia, a junior nutrition science major from Tracy, California, and midfielder for the UNH men’s team, commented on his outlook for the event.
“It’s really all about the memories we’re going to make here,” Valencia said. He said that it means a lot to him and his teammates that they are able to bring a smile to the face of someone who is living with a disability.
“Everyone [on the UNH team] wants to play, but they only asked us for 10 players,” Valencia said.
Linda Currier, whose son, Lucas, plays for NEP, was crucial in setting up the event. Lucas has muscular dystrophy and uses a power wheelchair. Linda is a 1986 UNH alumna and lives in Exeter. Linda described Lucas as a “sportaholic” and said that as his condition progressed, he wanted to find a way to continue playing the sports he loves.
“I think that…especially for kids with disabilities…it’s huge for people to know that this is out there,” Currier said. “To have a Northeast Passage near us, we consider ourselves very fortunate.”
Currier said it’s hard for these players to go out because people look at them differently. But playing power soccer gives them the happiness they want because they are still able to play these sports. She also said that power soccer is a really competitive sport for the players.
Last week, The New Hampshire interviewed Tony Jackson, the Power Soccer Coordinator for NEP. He said that the men’s team was really looking forward to this event after all the support they have gotten from Lucas Currier. Currier comes to their games and the men’s team goes to Currier’s games.
“We had a lot of really good support out here tonight. We had a good crowd,” Jackson said. “The men’s team actually did a lot better than I thought they were going to, considering they’ve never played power soccer before.”
Jack Dickson,a freshman undeclared liberal arts major from Bournemouth, England, is a midfielder for UNH. He scored two goals in the second half of the game.
“I think [power soccer] is absolutely fantastic,” Dickson said. “Lucas is always coming to our games…I think it’s great that we can play their game and see what it’s like.” Dickson said that he had a lot of fun and is really looking forward to playing in the future.
The money that was raised from ticket sales, donations and raffle tickets is being used to help the NEP Wildcats go to the national tournament this June in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the official U.S. Power Soccer Association’s tournament.
Linda Currier wanted to make it known that none of this would have been possible without the help of the UNH men’s team head coach, Marc Hubbard.
“… [We] hope to build on this in the future,” Hubbard said.