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Players from the Los Angeles Rams Wheelchair Football Team.

New in 2020-21, a wheelchair football league is taking the adaptive sports field by storm. Move United, the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the National Football League started a competitive wheelchair football league for adults with qualifying disabilities. It is played in a manual sports wheelchair. Although wheelchair football has been played since 1996, this is the first time a sports league has been established.

Since 2020, more than 400 athletes and coaches have participated in USA Wheelchair Football League programs. In 2021, the league expanded from four cities to nine cities and now includes the original four of Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Phoenix and the new cities of Birmingham, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tampa and New Orleans. Further expansion will be by invitation only.

Many of the players are wounded veterans. Others are nonmilitary adults with other disabilities. To join, a parathlete must have a permanent physical disability which lessens the function of the legs to the extent that they cannot run or pivot at any speed and do not have the control or endurance required to play able-bodied football.

All nine teams competed this fall in the first USAWFL season. There was a tournament Sept. 10-11 in Phoenix and a second on Oct. 30-31 in Chicago. A minimum of two tournaments will be held each year.

Move United has created a rulebook, as well as a playbook for new teams. This will help people start local recreation teams in their area and hopefully, expand to the new league. When you are staring a local recreation team, you are allowed to have some non-disabled team members to fill out the roster but they must play in sports wheelchairs also.

As we all know this time of year, football is America’s favorite sport and this new league proves football is really for EVERY BODY.

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