Powerchair sports were first played in Victoria in the early 1980’s, commencing at the Glenallen Special School. The sports quickly drew attention and became popular among students that Balwyn Special School (now Belmore School) introduced their own team to compete against Glenallen. These teams organised and played competitive matches, which later included Glenroy Special School.
Players, parents involved with Muscular Dystrophy Society (MDS) later known as Muscular Dystrophy Australia (MDA) and Barry Robson (former Glenallen Principal), formed what was known as the MD Sports Group, an unincorporated body, with its own committee, within the auspices of Muscular Dystrophy Society.
The MD Sports Group then began organising competitive team matches on Sundays, at the Glenallen indoor basketball court. The sports popularity resulted in fixtures involving four teams, and so impressed Roger Melnyk, then CEO of MDAV that he successfully applied for Commonwealth Govt. funding for a National Electric Wheelchair Sports event (NEWS), the first of which was held in Melbourne in 1986.
Early in 1989, a General Meeting of the MD Sports Group, with the concurrence of MDAV, resolved to become an independent incorporated Association, which was achieved late in that year when Victorian Electric Wheelchair Sports Association Incorporated became Registered under the relevant Victorian legislation.
Since the beginning of operation, VEWSA has successfully provided opportunities for people in powerchairs at state, national and international levels of competition. A state team has represented Victoria at the National Electric Wheelchair Sports Championship every year since 1986 where Victoria has achieved sustained success in the sport of Hockey.
VEWSA experienced its greatest period in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. A healthy number of players (40) and teams (7) were established and volunteers were always available. A decline in player numbers started in 2005 and continued throughout the next decade.
In 2011, three players from Victoria attended a Powerchair Football workshop in Sydney which involved other states and international players from the U.S, Japan and France. Powerchair Football was soon introduced into VEWSAs sports programs (winter season) but has struggled to attract players and support. VEWSA registered the name ‘Powerchair Football Victoria’ and has sent a representative team to compete at the Australian Powerchair Football Nationals each year since its birth in 2011.
In the 2014/15 season, there were only two teams in the competition which increased the difficulty to attract new players and sponsorship. The decision was made to focus more on the social benefits of sport and therefore set teams were scrapped. An annual finals series named ‘Pride Cup’ was created in 2014 and would conclude the summer competition.
In 2016, the president and vice-president of VEWSA approached Melbourne City FC and were successful in establishing the first Powerchair Football club team.
In 2017, Powerchair Hockey replaced the unique form of Hockey as it was to be introduced at N.E.W.S in 2018. The following year, Powerchair Football replaced Balloon Soccer. This change was made in line with the same changes made at National Electric Wheelchair Sports.
In 2018, VEWSA announced a competitive club league to be named Victorian Powerchair Premier League (VPPL) which had clubs in both Powerchair Football and Powerchair Hockey compete against each other. This saw South Melbourne FC establish its own Powerchair Foootball club. Both Powerchair Football clubs attended the Powerchair Football Club Championships.
Towards the end of 2018, the VEWSA committee decided to launch a new competition deemed Victorian Powerchair Sports League (VPSL). Unlike the VPPL and its clubs, the VPSL would be a more traditional competition where players were to compete in all three sports and in previous team names used in the past.
In 2019, two Powerchair Hockey clubs were established. The Melbourne Hunters and Melbourne Ducks will compete at the upcoming club championships in November, 2019.
The history of electric wheelchair sports in Victoria is very important to us. If you are a past member and you have a story to tell, please contact us email@example.com