Friday, November 20, 2009

Power Soccer

For an athlete, a spinal cord injury cannot only change how you live, but who you are.

Chris Finn said he was in the best shape of his life before a spinal cord injury. For 10 years, he searched for a sport he could play. He finally found it: power soccer.

"It changed my life," said Finn, the 38-year-old coach of Team USA.

The sport changed Michael Archer's life, too.

Archer, a 19-year-old IUPUI student from Greenwood, has arthrogryposis, which causes joint contractures before birth. Archer said he could walk using a walker until sixth grade, when he began using a motorized wheelchair. At first, he said, he couldn't stay on the sidewalk. Now, he is an athletic whiz kid.
Archer watched siblings play soccer and softball, and yearned for a sport he could do, too.

"Once I got into power soccer, that was actually the first really competitive sport that I was able to play," Archer said. "I just want to keep playing it."

He played on the U.S. team that won the 2007 World Cup in Japan. He is one of seven Indianapolis-area athletes attending a selection camp this week at Eagle Church in Whitestown. A national team is being chosen for the 2011 World Cup, and Indianapolis is a possible location for the tournament. The U.S. Power Soccer Association is headquartered here.

Others attending the camp include Case Calvert and Mathew Griffin, Indianapolis; Natalie and JC Russo, Carmel; and Jordan and Katie Dickey, Pendleton.
Finn, 38, knows the joy the sport can bring.

In 2002, the first time he stepped onto a power soccer court, he rolled the ball across the floor -- and into the goal. This, he told himself, is for me.

"I remember playing soccer out in the backyard, a 10-year-old kid dreaming I was going to be the next Pele, playing in the World Cup," Finn recalled. "This was my chance to fulfill that dream."


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