The city of Zamość in Poland is 60km from the border with Ukraine, it has been a multi-cultural centre of learning and progress in Europe from its founding in the sixteenth century. It is also the furthest place to the south-east of FIPFA’s Europe Zone (as far as we know) to have a Powerchair Football club!
The remarkable “Association of Help for Disabled Children in Zamość” called “Step-by-Step” hosts a club, as part of its holistic approach to the conductive education, health and development of disabled children and young people in the region. You can see their sports performance on the morning of Saturday, 5 December 2009 in the photo gallery slide show on the FIPFA home page, or you can go Step-by-Step . Powerchair Football development is one of the many aspects of the technical cooperation ongoing between the Association in Zamość and the “The Percy Hedley Foundation” in the United Kingdom, a centre of excellence in Powerchair Football.
FIPFA President Herve Delattre and Secretary General Robert Thomson were invited by “Step-by-Step” founder Dr. Maria Krol. Maria and her assistant Kinga Rybczyńska organised an information session on the scope, purpose and related aspects of the growing sport of Powerchair Football at the time of a national Boccia gathering. Thirty representatives and athletes from centres around the country attended the session, which was an opportunity to provide insight into Powerchair Football as a sport that is open to and widely played by athletes with the most severe physical impairments of both sexes and all ages. The short and informal session included the showing of the video introduction to FIFPA and the sport of Powerchair Football. The technical and institutional requirements of Powerchair Football were explained to the gathering of of the nine Polish centres. They were especially interested to hear about the new developments with regard to the Paralympic movement. Numerous questions were asked about who plays Powerchair Football, how integration goes with both male and female athletes, younger and older, with severe and often multiple impairments. Much discussion arose concerning adapting electrically powered wheelchairs in everyday use compared with especially designed sports chairs.
The meeting organisers gave a full description of the opportunities for disability sports and related disciplines in Poland. Clearly, the cost of acquiring a chair is relatively high in relation to purchasing in Poland, where there are many financial and social obstacles to integration.
Disability sport is only one of the many aspects of “Step-by-Step” – more interesting insights into its work have been recognized by an inter-governmental body.
FIPFA looks forward to greater involvement of Polish clubs and athletes in international competition, we will warmly welcome a Polish national organisation of power chair football into the activities of FIPFA.[nggallery id=23]