A CORK teen who plays with a powerchair football team is determined to take his dream all the way to the World Cup after overcoming years of adversity.
Liam Lynch from Mallow was diagnosed with a tumour in his spine and scoliosis at the age of seven. The devastating combination left him in a wheelchair. Rather than bow down to the challenges, the now 17-year-old endeavoured to lead as active a life as possible.
The teenager is excited to get back to training with the Heroes Powerchair Football Club after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. A mammoth fundraising effort in recent years allowed them to purchase specialist sports equipment to enable the team to compete. Liam and his teammates had been tipped for the top until the pandemic put their dreams on hold. They hope to get back to the sport as soon as restrictions are lifted.
He said the main draw of powerchair football for him initially was the speed. He had previously tried a range of other wheelchair sports but found that many resulted in him being tossed out of his wheelchair.
His love for the game developed after attending a training camp in France. Ever since then he has been hugely passionate about the sport and hopes to make it to the world cup someday.
“I was into the speed of power soccer and not having to get hit out of my chair like I did in wheelchair basketball or rugby,” Liam said.
“I never really was that sporty but I loved the speed.”
The 17-year-old said he hopes to travel with the sport someday.
“I love playing with other team members and having the craic but winning is the main part. I would love to make it to the World Cup someday. It would be nice to travel and see different parts of the world.”
His mum Grainne said they would love to see more recognition given to the sport.
“It’s not the most visible sport,” she explained. “We hope that the Paralympics can shine a light on these types of sports so they can get more recognition. It’s quite a niche sport because of the type of equipment you have to play with. If anybody is new to the game it’s very hard for them because of the equipment we need to play with. Finding a place to play is difficult but the biggest challenge is finding new players.
“The price of the powerchair needed to play starts at €10,000 and can cost a lot more based on upgrades depending on the player’s needs and condition.”
She said the sport takes a lot of drive and determination.
“I think people are quite amazed when they realise the skill that it requires. The FIA were doing a tour of soccer clubs three years ago and tried out the powerchairs. When they got in they realised how difficult it actually was. They couldn’t believe the speed of it and how players managed to manouever the ball. It’s a very skillful sport.”