The Hillsborough County Department of Parks and Recreation, through its Hillsborough County Adaptive Sports Program, has introduced a new sport: wheelchair football. The Hillsborough County Buccaneers wheelchair football team has been selected as an extension of the United States Wheelchair Football League (USAWFL). There are nine teams in total in the league, most of which are located in NFL towns.
On September 8, the team was introduced and received equipment and a pep talk from Bucs Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson. They received official helmets from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as jerseys provided by Move United. The Bucs then traveled to Phoenix, Ariz. On the weekend of September 11-12 to play five games against other teams in the NFL markets. They had a successful weekend, winning four out of five games. They will be playing their next tournament on Halloween weekend in Kansas City.
Ryan Lindstrom, who plays center of the team, participates in several other adapted sports including wheelchair rugby, softball and, most notably, for the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs basketball team, was thrilled to ” have the opportunity to try a new sport. The Riverview resident said he and his teammates who play for the Strong Dogs have long been interested in adaptive football. He remains very active, playing all of these sports at the same time during the season. He is very excited to learn a new sport and participate in the inaugural season in Tampa.
“It’s a lot of fun to go out and play a sport that you watch on TV,” Lindstrom said. “When you go out and play, you feel like you’re playing football and not playing an adapted sport. You almost feel as close to football as you can get. “
Wide receiver Adryan Powell said he had never played football before, coming from the Cayman Islands, where football is not the main sport. The Brandon resident was a soccer goalie before his injury. He also competes for the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs, having played adapted basketball at the University of Texas Arlington. After the football season, Powell plans to play in a wheelchair basketball league overseas. He enjoys the camaraderie of playing football with his teammates.
“It can get really competitive there,” said Powell. “It’s a really fun sport, and I think once again people get into it and see it, they’re going to love it.”
Lindstrom said the one-handed seven-on-seven tactile sport is very physical with a lot of contact. It is played on a hard surface court 60 meters long and 22 meters wide. The team consists of 14 players in total. They train two to three days a week at All People’s Community Park and Life Center on Sligh Ave.
According to the Hillsborough County website, this is the first wheelchair football team in the Hillsborough County Adaptive Sports Program, which promotes health, independence and personal growth through sport for people. physical disabilities. USAWFL is a program of Move United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting parasport among youth and adults with physical disabilities. The league’s expansion was made possible thanks to the NFL Salute to Service Award and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
“The squad we have is pretty impressive, and I’m excited to see what we can do at the next tournament,” said Lindstrom.