FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Back in 2009, Mike McCoy officially became a referee for the sport of powerchair football, or — as we call it in the United States — power soccer.
McCoy decided to attend a clinic for the sport in Indianapolis that an old college friend of his was involved with. He fell in love with it, and has been at it ever since.
He now oversees all of the referees in the country and for the zone that includes the U.S. and South America.
On Tuesday, he’ll leave for Australia to referee his third world cup. Of the seven international referees across the United States, McCoy was selected by the head official for FIPFA (Federation Internationale de Power Football Association) to be one of the 10 referees for this year’s world cup.
There’ll be one other American referee at the cup: Doug Wolff from St. Louis.
“It’s exciting. Even though it’s my third one, it’s an honor to be there,” McCoy said. “We have, power soccer is small, we have about 60 to 70 referees around the country, and Doug and I feel we’re representing all of those and want to do the best we can do for them.”
For those who aren’t familiar, power soccer is just like regular soccer except one big difference: It’s played by people in wheelchairs.
McCoy said the athletes are just as impressive. He’s definitely seen moments that make him think “Wow, that was pretty cool.”
“I think it’s just the excitement of the game because, even though we’re inside on the basketball court, the excitement level and the expertise that these young and old people have to have to maneuver these chairs and move that ball around is just as exciting as the running game,” McCoy explained.
What made him fall in love with the game? Perhaps it’s seeing people with disabilities still have an athletic outlet, or maybe it’s those moments when a young, new player scored their first goal and can’t stop smiling.
“I’ve been blessed with healthy kids, healthy grandkids. Others are – I don’t want to say they’re not – but, they have children with disabilities and so forth, and this is a way that we can make them active and give them a sport that they can play in,” he said.
McCoy said the sport is very competitive. In the U.S., there’s a relegation system for four different levels and everyone wants to stay in their conference or move up.
He added that the United States is one of the powerhouses on the international level. The U.S. team won two of the last three world cups but lost the most recent one. McCoy believes they’ll be looking for revenge.
He said it will be interesting to see if one of the stronger countries has its usual success or if another country sneaks in and takes the gold in Australia.