Wheelchair soccer league comes to Tobin

Mission Hill has a new sports team to cheer for: the Boston Brakers, the city’s first league “power soccer” team.

Power soccer involves the use of electric wheelchairs outfitted with bumpers to direct soccer balls.

The Brakers had their inaugural game at the Tobin Community Center on Tremont Street Dec. 1 against the Sudbury Sharp Shooters. The Brakers lost 6-1.

Team captain Jim Wice said the team is hoping to schedule a tournament with other New England power soccer teams in the spring following a traditional league winter break.

Following a well-received clinic at the Tobin Community Center in May, Wice organized interested players into a team with himself as captain. They’ve been practicing two Saturdays a month at the Tobin since.

“Everyone’s who has played has been enthusiastic,” Wice said.

Power soccer is designed exclusively for wheelchair users and “feels a bit like hockey with a goalie, two wings and a center,” Wice said. Guards protect players’ feet and direct the larger-than-usual soccer ball.

The Brakers have plenty of players—a regulation power soccer team has four players on the “field” and they have 16 people on the roster, many of who have never played sports before.

“I can’t believe that I had to wait 43 years to play competitive sports. Better late than never,” player Jerry Boyd said on the team’s Facebook page.

The Brakers, however, are still facing challenges. They are still looking for enough volunteers to help set up chairs and playing space. They’d like to get access to more gym time, either at the Tobin or elsewhere. They’d like to upgrade their guards from plastic to metal, a tall order at $300 each.

“Hopefully, soon we’ll see better [wheelchair] speeds and better guards,” Wice said. “We lost 6-1. It was definitely a learning experience.”

The team is also looking for sponsors to help defray expenses.

The U.S. Power Soccer Association is the national body that governs the sport of power soccer. The Tobin Community Center will continue to host power soccer practices and games. For more information, see tobincommunitycenter.org.

The Boston Brakers before their first game Dec. 1. (Courtesy Photo)

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