USA Wheelchair Football Takes Center Stage Ahead of Super Bowl LVII
Days before the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs took the field for Super Bowl VII, the USA Wheelchair Football League (USAWFL) held its own championship game – and a rematch, of sorts – in Phoenix. The Kansas City Chiefs faced off against reigning champions, the Los Angeles Rams, for the second year in a row. This year, the Chiefs took home the trophy. Although the USAWFL Championship is only in its second year, the game is one of the most celebrated activities during Super Bowl week and perhaps even an accurate predictor of Super Bowl winners.
Move United Makes Professional Sports Accessible
Move United launched this adaptive sports league in 2019, with support from an NFL Salute to Service and Bob Woodruff Foundation grant, providing athletes with disabilities, including veterans, with the opportunity to develop their skills and compete at the highest level. The sport is adapted from American football, with many of the same rules remaining, making it accessible without limiting the opportunity for action-packed games complete with high-speed tackles and races to the end zone. Since its inception, the league is 400 athletes strong playing for 11 teams across the country.
An Opportunity for Competition and Community After Service
Matthew Scholten, a veteran who served 20 years in the United States Army and plays on the defensive line for the winning Kansas City team, expressed his love for the physicality of the game, saying “I can be competitive.” His teammate, Alex Nguyen, who served in the Marine Corps, praised the team’s hard-fought victory, saying “We knew these guys were going to come out tough, and we had to match that at least.” The Chiefs scored the winning touchdown with just a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, resulting in a final score of 7-0.
The Chiefs Took Home the Trophy, But One Veteran Took Home Super Bowl Tickets
The USAWFL halftime show wasn’t as gravity-defying as Rhianna’s performance at the big game, but still electrifying. NFL stars like the Eagles’ cheerleaders and mascot Swoop, Kansas City’s KC Wolf, and Cameron Jordan, a New Orleans Saints defensive end, came to cheer on the players and veterans in attendance. “I love being able to visit our military bases,” Jordan shares. “I love being able to see our fans across the world, but better yet, they are servicemen who help protect our freedoms.”
One veteran in particular got more than an action-packed day at the game. Steve Martin is a Move United Warfighter Ambassador and an Afghanistan veteran – and recipient of two tickets to Super Bowl LVII. “I was just out here… and at halftime, Cam Jordan is calling my name and surprised me with these tickets,” a stunned Martin exclaimed. “I’m excited. I texted my wife; she’s excited. We spend our Sundays watching football, so this will be great!”
The return of the USA Wheelchair Football League Championship Game during Super Bowl week is a reminder of the importance of inclusive sports and the opportunity for achievement by athletes with disabilities. As the league continues to grow and develop, it will undoubtedly provide even more opportunities for athletes to showcase their skills and inspire others.