New Orleans’ football culture makes it a great fit for USA Wheelchair Football League

Louisiana

{Video and photos courtesy of Move United}

NEW ORLEANS — Since 2003, Move United has offered over 16,000 wounded and disabled veterans the chance to compete in several athletic and recreational programs in their communities.

Thanks to a 6-figure grant, those veterans and other disabled individuals can go from being football fans to football players.

18 months ago, Move United joined forces with the NFL and its Salute to Service program in partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation to start a wheelchair football league in Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Kansas City.

The league’s inaugural season was halted because of the pandemic.

“We weren’t allowed to play any games. We have a bunch of teams that started practice last year in four of the NFL markets and this year, we’re excited because the NFL came back and said we believe in this investment to include people with disabilities in football. So, let’s expand to five more teams,” says Move United Executive Director Glenn Merry.

An expansion made possible by a grant from the foundation that brings wheelchair football to a total of nine cities including New Orleans.

“SMCL is a local adaptive sports and therapy group that has a long rich tradition in adaptive sports. The second thing we look for is a market where the NFL has rabid fans that really enjoys sports, that can really get behind it,” says Merry.

“We recognize that we may not have the viewership that the NFL does, but we want people to be engaged, we want people to be able to come out to games and see what’s going on and football is such an important culture in the New Orleans area.”

While the league has not identified a game site in the New Orleans area just yet, it has identified an interest in athletes to take part.

“We did a combine for athletes, and we had hundreds of athletes from around the country, some non-veterans and several veterans that were like, I liked playing high school football, college football, and I want to continue this. I just can’t do it the same way. It needs to be adaptive because I’m in a wheelchair,” says Merry.

 Practices and tryouts will start as early as next month. Games will begin in the fall.

You must be 18 or older to play.

For more information, click here.

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