Journey to the final goal

Greenwood’s two-time champion Michael Archer joins Team USA at the third Powerchair Football World Cup

Greenwood’s Michael Archer has played power soccer since 2004.

Greenwood resident Michael Archer is the only member of Team USA preparing to play for the third time in the World Cup Power Soccer championship games. He is also planning for it to be his last.

“One of the things we were taught, it is about the final goal, but savor all the memories on the journey to the final goal,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the final journey.”

A graduate of Greenwood Community High School and Purdue University, Archer always enjoyed sports. He was born with arthrogryposis, a stiffness on his joints which restricts his movement. He used to play Challenger Baseball, designed for youth with special needs.

While attending his sister’s T-ball practice, a parent asked Archer if he’d ever heard of power soccer, the first and only competitive team sport developed for power wheelchair users. He said no, and agreed to go watch a practice.

“From there, I just fell in love,” he said. “In Challenger Baseball, it wasn’t that big of a challenge for me and I like challenges. I had to have someone help me because I can’t run down the bases or stand for a long time. This sport, nobody has to help me. The thing I love about it is how independent it makes disabled people. While we’re on the court, we make decisions and gain the confidence of being independent on the court. Off the court, it carries over into our daily lives.”

Power soccer is usually in a gymnasium on a basketball court. Two teams of four players attack, defend, pass and spin-kick a 13-inch soccer ball. The chairs are regulated and cannot go faster than 6.5 mph. Archer said his chair can kick the ball an estimated 40 mph.

Archer joined the local team, Circle City Rollers, in 2004. Four Championship Cup competitions are held annually in the U.S., sponsored by MK Battery. Since Archer’s time playing, Circle City Rollers has won six championships.

Michael Archer, surrounded by his team, holds the 2011 world cup trophy.

In 2006, he was selected to become a member of Team USA. Players for Team USA are selected from the more than 60 club teams in the nation. He trained for a year and a half before traveling to Tokyo, Japan for the first Powerchair Football World Cup.

“We were the underdog,” Archer said. “France was our biggest rival. We beat France in the finals, in sudden death penalty kicks, to win the World Cup.”

Archer said being selected to represent his country in a sport he could play was a great honor.

“One of my favorite moments is the very first goal I scored,” he said. “It was in about 20 seconds. There was a foul. It was close to their goal. My teammate kicked the ball to me. I did a big, 180 degree kick and it went in the goal. Seeing the fans stand up, cheer ‘USA, USA,’ it gives me chills now.”

He was selected again for Team USA, this time as team captain, for the World Cup in Paris, France in 2011. Again, Team USA came out victorious.

Three years ago, he was selected for his third time on Team USA to be held this July 5 to 9 in Kissimmee, Fla. Those interested can watch World Cup games live at livestream.com/powersoccershop/2017FIPFAWorldCup.

“It was one of my goals to have the world cup here and to win here,” Archer said. “That’s what I look forward to most – winning on our home soil and representing the fans where they can come and watch.”

Team USA won its second World Cup in 2011. Photo Courtesy of Chris Williams.

Team USA consists of 12 players from across the country; five are from Indiana. Eight players will travel to the World Cup. The team holds its training camps in different states throughout the years, and the next one is in Greenwood from April 27 to 29.

“Training camp is a very long day,” Archer said. “We’re in the gym at 9 a.m. and sometimes don’t leave until 9 at night. It’s very intense. Everyone is tired. All the chair batteries start dying at the end.”

The team will play exhibition games open to the public at Mount Pleasant Christian Church’s Community Life Center, 407 N. Bluff Rd., Greenwood on April 29, 1-5pm.

“I would encourage people to come out to raise awareness in what this sport is about,” Archer said. “We take a lot of pride. You don’t just get in your chair and kick a ball around. This takes a lot of time, dedication and a lot of skill for the athlete to control the chair, make quick decisions on their own to maneuver the ball around and score.”

Team USA Power Soccer Exhibition Game

When: April 29, 1 – 5 p.m.

Where: Mount Pleasant Christian Church, Community Life Center, 407 N. Bluff Rd., Greenwood.

Info: mpcc.info, powersoccerusa.org.