Who Are We?
Powerchair Sports Victoria, formerly Victorian Electric Wheelchair Sports Association (VEWSA) is the peak body for powerchair sports in Victoria. We are a community based, non-profit association run by volunteers, parents and players. Our clear focus is on providing sport and recreational opportunities for people who use a powerchair for mobility.
Powerchair Sports Victoria aims to ensure that all Victorians with disabilities who use powerchairs for daily mobility have the opportunity to participate in sport and recreation. These opportunities include team sporting events at Regional, National and International levels of competition. We encourage participation and promote powerchair sports with the hope of making a positive impact on the lives of Victorians with a disability. Sport has many benefits, it helps build character through teamwork, communication, leadership, hard work, perseverance and good sportsmanship.
We will achieve our mission by:
- Engaging with our members to provide support, guidance and resources.
- Create and maintain pathways to national and international competitions and engage with other Associations around Australia.
- Effectively administering all competitions throughout Victoria.
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. Most, but not all of the players, had neuromuscular disorders under the Muscular Dystrophy umbrella, and a number of the parents, were involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Society (MDS), as it then was, an unincorporated organisation, (later known as Muscular Dystrophy Association of Victoria Incorporated, (MDAV). Those parents, 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 MDS, and later MDAV.
The MD Sports Group then began organising competitive team matches on Sundays, at the Glenallen indoor Basketball Court / Gymnasium. The Sport’s popularity resulted in fixtures involving four (4) 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 and teams were established and volunteers were always available. A decline in player numbers started in 2005 and has continued throughout the last 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 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 changes made at N.E.W.S.
In 2019, the VEWSA committee decided that the organisation needed a fresh change and therefore rebranded into Powerchair Sports Victoria.