NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- As a young child growing up in Chesapeake, Kevin Mulholland was like so many other kids. He loved to play soccer. He was born with muscular dystrophy, but the disease did not prevent him from using his legs until he was about 14 years old. “I used to play youth soccer. You know, bumble bee soccer, but I played mostly defense or goalie because it hurt to run. I made Eagle Scout and was able to do a lot with my brothers and sisters, but now I have a sport I can play,” said Mulholland.
Mulholland plays Power Soccer. It is a competitive team sport designed for athletes with disabilities. Specially designed power chairs with a low center of gravity are used to kick 13 inch balls. “It’s awesome just knowing you can play a sport instead of watching your brother of sister always playing or watching the NFL or Premier League. Now I can actually play a sport,” added Mulholland.
Mulholland plays locally with the Tidewater Piranhas, but last month he competed for team USA in Brazil at the COPA America’s powered wheelchair tournament. “It’s great to play for Team USA and other great players from around the country. Power soccer gives you the opportunity to play at the International level,” added Mullholland.
USA outscored its opponents 54 to 2 going undefeated against teams from Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and Australia. Kevin scored seven goals in the tournament, including four against Argentina. “It’s just truly an honor to play for them. They are such a great team that I learned so much from them.”
Kevin, along with Tidewater Piranhas Power soccer coach Steve Belechak, were recently at CHKD giving a demonstration about the game and its benefits to those who play. Belechak says power soccer opens many doors for those in wheel chairs. “First and foremost the ability to be on a team. Second of all is the camaraderie you get when playing with other players. To have a group that can direct you in the community when something is going wrong. Also the ability to drive the chair. You are going to have chances to really understand how that chair works and be able to go backwards. Bottom line you have to go backwards in soccer and you very rarely go backwards in a wheel chair,” says Belechak.
Kevin says he hopes to change a few minds while giving the demonstration at CHKD. “I am here at CHKD to show the doctors that there are sports available to those in power chairs. The sport keeps growing all the time. There are over 60 teams in the US and we are the only local team here in Hampton Roads.”
Kevin hopes to one day make the USA World Cup Power Soccer team.