BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Lakeshore Foundation has been selected as an expansion team in the new USA Wheelchair Football League.
“We are excited to be an expansion team in the USA Wheelchair Football League and to add a new high-impact sport to Lakeshore’s athletic program,” Lakeshore President and CEO Jeff Underwood said in a statement. “We are the only team in a city without an NFL franchise. Our experience in adapted sport made Lakeshore an attractive candidate for a team.”
The team’s name will be the Birmingham Hammers. Wheelchair football is a full-contact sport that is played by both men and women with a permanent disability. The sport has been played for more than 20 years across the country, but in 2020 a new, organized form of the game began under the direction of the USAWFL. The league was established through a Salute to Service Grant from the National Football League (NFL) and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
“Birmingham is thrilled to welcome the Hammers to our city,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Birmingham is not just a town filled with diehard sports fans, it’s a city that embraces its legacy of inclusion. We can’t wait to see these incredible athletes in action,” he added.
Tim Alexander, a Lakeshore member and Director of Character Development for UAB Football, is looking forward to tryouts for the Hammers in July.
“I am very excited wheelchair football is coming to Lakeshore,” Alexander said. “This sport gives people with disabilities the opportunity to get in the game and fall in love with the game. We don’t need it to be easy, we just need it to be possible.”
Staff members from Lakeshore and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, Alex Martinez and Rob Welty, served on a committee to develop rules for the league and a certification curriculum for coaches and referees. For almost 30 years, Lakeshore Foundation has recognized sport as life-changing activity that empowers individuals and changes attitudes about disability.
“We have trained thousands of athletes from across our country and from around the world as an Olympic and Paralympic Training Site and continue to serve as the High Performance Maintenance Organization for USA Wheelchair Rugby. We look forward to representing Alabama in this national wheelchair football league,” Underwood said.
For more information on the USA Wheelchair Football League and the sport of wheelchair football, go to USA Wheelchair Football League – Lakeshore Foundation