Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

July 26, 2005 > Newark Hot Rodders

Newark Hot Rodders

by Susana Nuñez

The world of sports has always fascinated both spectators and participants. From the challenges of basketball, the footwork in soccer, and the strength required for football, worldwide sports fanatics appreciate the skills of players. Whether the group is a local team or a national champion, they are cheered on and pumped up by fans. But from old-time favorites a fairly new sport has emerged that is gaining its own worldwide following as well. Power soccer.

The Newark Hot Rodders have made a name for themselves during the last two years. The team isn't, however, composed of your average athletes, which is only part of the challenge. It consists of disabled people who, from specially designed wheelchairs (or "power chairs"), play with as much energy as walking athletes. The young group participated in the Power Soccer 2005 World Invitational along with over 20 other teams. Of the four games the "Rodders" played, they lost three and tied one. The team improved as the tournament went on and player Leroy Myers was even recognized as Defensive Player of the Division. The Rodders coach, Carlos Borba, said "It wasn't just about winning or losing; it was an experience where the players got to grow and meet other people. They're excited about going to another tournament."

Power soccer incorporate strategies from hockey, basketball, football and soccer. Players maneuver a ball over the goal line of opposing teams and prevents opponents from doing the same. The game has very little passing and instead uses other strategies. Players try to create holes, or paths, by blocking opponents so the ball-handler has a clear path toward the goal area. Team members play from "power chairs," a type of electric wheelchair, with 12-inch foot guards to protect their feet and allow them control of the 18-inch ball. The game benefits its players allowing them to compete independently. They also gain life skills such as teamwork, leadership skills. Borba adds, "[The game] allows [them] to gain self-confidence needed to persevere or succeed in other areas of their lives."

The game dates back to 1982, when a group of disabled people from Victoria, Canada invented the sport, originally called "motor soccer." The group also used a physio-ball, or exercise ball, as a soccer ball.

This creative and challenging sport has spread throughout the Bay Area and teams are found around the world. Fans and sponsors of the Tri-City Area's Newark Hot Rodders include the Kiwanis Club of Fremont, the Rotary Club of Newark, and the Newark Optimist Club.

The Newark Hot Rodders range in ages from 7 to 16, which is young compared to other Bay Area teams. The group's next season begins next October and they are currently looking for potential teammates.

For information on how to join, contact coach Carlos Borba at (408) 247-0805 or coach Garret Coleman at (510) 487-4752.

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