St. Paul, Minn. (Fox 9) - Saturday was a busy day at Allianz Field as the Minnesota United F.C. took on the Houston Dynamo, but before the game, MNUFC’s new power soccer team had the full attention of fans.
Power soccer is an adaptive form of the game designed for those who use power wheelchairs, and last month Minnesota United became just the third club in the MLS to have their own power soccer team when they signed seven players of the Allina Health Courage Kenny Power Soccer team, making them official Minnesota United athletes.
On Saturday, the team played demonstration games for fans in front of the stadium.
"We’re really excited to be able to help elevate this sport with a relationship with the Minnesota United," team manager Megan Welty said. "For the athletes, it’s really an opportunity to elevate, to be able to show the public that they are athletes as well."
For Loons power soccer player Ashrith Subash, the appeal was more straightforward.
"I like the speed of the wheelchair and scoring goals," Scubas said.
MNUFC sporting director Manny Lagos knows the hard work of his newest athletes has the power to change the game, as well as perceptions about those who play it. "They are inspiring, they are playing the sport that we all love, we all play and support, and they are a part of us now," Lagos told Fox 9..
Each athlete was signed to the club in a gesture to show that soccer is an inclusive sport that anyone can play. "Some kids have muscular dystrophy, some players have cerebral palsy, maybe a spinal cord injury," Welty said.
The team got started at Allina Health’s Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley, where they still practice regularly.
"Soccer is for anybody, [these players] don’t have a pair of cleats on, but they are still playing the sport of soccer," Welty said.
The team’s season runs from September through June, with matches in Fridley and Hudson. They are hoping their new partnership with MUFC will help them recruit more players.