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Q&A with Power Soccer Assistant Coach, Brian MacLaren

By Rae van Seenus on Aug 09, 2019 at 06:11 PM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog
An Update and Season Report on Use of New Strike Force Power Soccer Wheelchairs

Last July, the UCP WORK, Inc. Power Soccer Team, the Rollin’ Rebels, was gifted with a grant of $40,000, for the purchase of four new Strike Force Power wheelchairs.  Known as the “Ferrari” of power wheelchairs and said to outperform every other power wheelchair on the market, it’s designed with a low center of gravity, wide wheelbase, customized center mount joystick, and is able to spin kick with more power. 

The Rollin’ Rebels have recently finished out a successful season with the support of their new chairs, player skill improvement, and personalized training by Coach Dan Weiner and Assistant Coach, Brian MacLaren. We caught up with Brian in order to provide UCP WORK, Inc. a Q&A update on how the new Power Soccer wheelchairs perform and impact overall team morale.

Q: Have the Strike Force Power wheelchairs changed the game for any individual players or the team as a whole?

A: For me, the chair is not necessarily faster. By the rule book of the game, all the chairs have to test at, or close to, the same speed at the start of each match. What makes the big difference is the response the chair gives the player. It reacts much faster than the old chairs.  As a player, we need that split second quickness, because the game moves so fast, especially when playing the more advanced higher level teams. 

Q: Please describe one or two of the Rollin’ Rebels best games this season: 

A: The game that comes to mind was the last game of this season, held down South in Glendale, CA. Coach Weiner could not attend, so he gave me the responsibility of playing my position, knowing when to bow out, and coach the team. This is something that I had never done before and it was fun, too! 

Another great game was the “Bash At The Beach”, held in Carpinteria and hosted by The So Cal Vaqueros. We had a total of ten (10) teams at the tournament, the most we’ve ever had, and all the teams love playing there because of the beach location and the small town vibe.

Q: How was this season in relation to past years? Do you think the difference was due to extensive training, technology of the chairs, or due to the aptitude and skill-set of the players?

A: Compared to past years, the Strike Force chairs have made a huge difference overall. Mostly with the technology, but I also think everyone on the team has a new boost of confidence, as well as wanting to practice more. Having the chairs has also boosted team morale. 

Q: Has this season helped change the way individual players view themselves?

A: As far as individual players go, Gustavo is faster on the court than ever before. He also plays a great goalie now. Ulices has much more confidence, starting to mature as a player, and is also showing signs as a leader. Connor has improved, as well, and has been so important for our team’s success last season! He is truly the “Animal in the Cage!”, as we call him. This means the chair has given him a faster reaction time in the goal area.  Conner is also able to travel this season, which is something he was limited to do in the past.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: I attended a 5-day soccer camp in Maple Lake, Minnesota this year, called “Camp Courage”, which provided all day soccer drills and some of the best players from team USA. They are huge roll models.  I have also met some great friends there and we all play Power Soccer together. 

About Power Soccer

Power soccer is a growing sport played in 20 different countries where athletes with disabilities use their power wheelchairs equipped with guards to hit an 13”-18” leather soccer ball around an indoor basketball court.  The game is played by two teams using special footguards attached to powered wheelchairs as “feet” to kick the large ball.  The object of the game is to maneuver the ball over the goal line of an opposing team while preventing them from doing the same. There are referees and yellow cards, similar to a typical soccer game. 

Q&A with Power Soccer Assistant Coach, Brian MacLaren