ATLANTA – When the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA – www.powersoccerusa.net) plays two exhibition games on the Medtrade Show Floor at the Georgia World Congress Center, the organization will benefit from the sponsorship efforts of MK Battery.
According to Wayne Merdinger (pictured), executive VP and general manager, MK Battery, the sponsorship arrangement is much more than a financial or business arrangement, and amounts to a “significant emotional commitment that our entire company has embraced.”
A month before the Oct 20-23 Medtrade show is set to begin, Merdinger spoke about goals for the USPSA, the impact on athletes, and hopes for international expansion of the sport.
Q: Why has your company chosen to sponsor the USPSA?
Wayne Merdinger, executive vice president and general manager, MK Battery: Most power soccer athletes are complex rehab users and, as such, MK gel batteries are the predominant power source amongst this constituency. We see this organization as a tremendous opportunity for power wheelchair users to get involved in something that makes them feel good about themselves, and we want to do all we can to increase exposure for the sport and attract more teams and players.
Q: What is the sport’s greatest challenge?
Merdinger: The greatest challenge facing the sport is lack of exposure. With only 70 or so teams in the USA and 15 countries involved in international play, families often have to travel great distances to participate in competitions, and our mission is to help curtail some of those travel costs while encouraging more of the HME business community to get involved. It is a cause we believe is a perfect fit for our company and one that makes sense for any manufacturers or providers that cater to the complex rehab market. For MK Battery, it is much more than a financial or business arrangement. It is a significant emotional commitment that our entire company has embraced.
Q: What do you like most about the game and the athletes?
Merdinger: I have been impressed with the seriousness with which the players, families, coaches and referees approach the sport. Power soccer represents the only real, organized, competitive sport designed specifically for power wheelchair users, and it allows athletes of all ages to compete at multiple ability levels. The game has strict rules and regulations and the players play to win.
Q: What is the reaction of family members who see these games?
Merdinger: To see families watching their loved ones enjoying the thrill of the game, the camaraderie, and the strong competitive spirit that once seemed impossible for them, is an emotionally rewarding experience. The athletes are the best! They exhibit the same drive, energy and determination as I’ve seen in any able-bodied, organized, competitive sport, and their lives are truly enhanced through their participation.
Q: What do you expect will be the reaction at Medtrade when people see the exhibition games?
Merdinger: Above all else, this sport needs exposure. They need more teams in more cities across the country and around the world in order to make it a Paralympic event. They need more players so that families need not travel such long distances to participate. And, of course, they need additional funding to support all of their efforts.
Q: Why does it make sense for other business to get involved with power soccer?
Merdinger: Since virtually all Medtrade exhibitors and attendees touch power soccer athletes in one way or another, my sincere hope is that this exhibition will be a catalyst for more businesses to get involved.
Q: What form would you like to see that involvement take?
Merdinger: We would like to see providers get involved in forming local teams and offering on-site wheelchair repair services during local tournaments. It would be great exposure for providers with a captive and relevant audience.
Q: What about manufacturers?
Merdinger: Manufacturers can also get involved through sponsorship of local, regional, national and even international competitions. As an industry, this is our ultimate customer base, and we should all support the growth of a sport that surely enriches their lives.
Game #1 at Medtrade will take place on Wednesday, Oct 22, at 11:00 a.m.
Game #2 will happen at 2:00 p.m.
Immediately following exhibition game #1, attendees and members of the media are invited to a press conference/Q&A at 11:30. The press conference will take place on a stage and seating area next to the playing area. Attendees and members of the press will be free to ask any questions they might have.
Power Soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Athletes’ disabilities include quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and many others. The game is usually played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court. Two teams of four players attack, defend, and spin-kick a 13-inch soccer ball in a skilled and challenging game similar to able-bodied soccer.
Wednesday, October 22
11:00 a.m. – Exhibition Game #1
11:30 a.m. – Press Conference and Attendee/Press Q&A
2:00 p.m. – Exhibition Game #2
Medtrade takes place Oct 20-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
• Providers who wish to register for Medtrade should CLICK HERE.
• The full link for registration is http://registration.experientevent.com/showmth141/default.aspx?flowcode=att
• Pricing for events can be found at http://www.medtrade.com/attendee/pricing.shtml
• All sessions at Medtrade and their descriptions can be found here: http://www.medtrade.com/conference/conference-sessions.shtml
Exhibitors have already bought 98% of the floor space at the Georgia World Congress Center in anticipation of what could be the most important Medtrade in the event’s long history. For a complete list of exhibitors and/or additional information about the show, visit www.medtrade.com.