Houston Fireballs hosts Houston’s first-ever international power soccer tournament

PEARLAND, Texas - The Houston Fireballs hosted its first ever Houston International Cup, a tournament for power soccer. The tournament brought in teams from Mexico, California, Georgia and Texas to the Pearland Recreation Center to battle it out to earn the top title.

The Houston Fireballs Power Soccer program was formed by Diane Murrell, a Texas Childrens social worker, to provide a safe, fun environment for youth who are power wheelchair users to participate in an organized adapted sport.

"This is the first time ever that we have had such a big event in Houston. To have 7 teams playing and to have teams as far as California and Mexico...It's just been exciting and the teams are so excited," Murrell said.

The excitement comes after constant hard work. The teams train all year long and travel all over North America. Kirsten Passmore is the definition of a competitive leader

"I take great pride in defense. When that score board reads a low number, I'm happy when that score board gets up I'm furstrated at myself because I take great pride in taking care of the goal," Passmore said.

With power soccer, players must hustle on motorized wheelchairs to score points.

"They have spin kicks. They're shooting for goal. They're blocking. They're guarding. They do everything that you do in a soccer game, but they do it in a power wheel chair," Murrell said.

Passmore is affected by Cerebral Palsy, but it is her attitude that defines her.

"You have to fight for it. You have to fight to get that number on the board. So we are treated with the same respect as athletes!" Passmore said.

In fact, many of these players have to consider even more elements when playing power soccer.

"Ther are lots of drills especially with passing the ball and lots of communication," Passmore said. "We do have players that communicate differently. Some of them are non-verbal, so you have to learn to look for their signals."

For spectators, it is fun to watch.

"I don't see any disabilities out there. I just see incredible abilities," said Dr. Tim Lotze, with Texas Children's Hospital.

The freedom on the courts ring.

“Power soccer is really unique in that it’s the only sport that someone who is quadriplegic can do on their own without any attendant positioning them, helping them or giving them guidance,” Murrell said.

Sergio Garcia traveled from Monterrey, Mexico to cheer on his child.

"We are very proud of them, and we expect them to win," Garcia said.

Organizers hope the tournament continues to grow.

"When my teams scores a point, I feel pride in knowing they're fighting for our team," Passmore said.

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