SYDNEY, Australia (FOX 9) - Minnesota will be well represented when the U.S. Power Soccer National team begins its quest for a third World Cup title this weekend in Sydney, Australia.
Pete Winslow is waking up this week several continents away from his hometown of Woodbury, Minnesota. As he writes in his Twitter bio, "People chase their dreams. I am living mine."
"My whole life, I was on the sidelines watching sports. I love sports, watching my older siblings play and everything, and I was a big fan of theirs. Now, to have the roles reversed where they can watch me and be my fans, that's really something incredible," said Winslow, a U.S. Power Soccer National team member.
Winslow, a sports broadcaster and video editor, fell in love with power football, or power soccer as it’s called in America, back in 2007, the first year of the World Cup. Power soccer is a competitive sport designed specifically for power wheelchair users.
"I ended up working really hard in training and ended up becoming a part of the 2011 team that went to Paris, France to win the World Cup," he said.
Six years later, he was an alternate on the team that took first in Florida. Fast-forward to this week, which marks his third time vying for the title. Winslow's parents are with him right now in Australia, and the rest of his family will hold watch parties back in Minnesota.
On the eight-person United States team, three players, plus the head coach, are all from Minnesota, and that's not a coincidence.
"We all play on the same team. We've been doing really well with our club stuff, the Minnesota Shockwave. We've won three straight national titles," Winslow explained.
The co-ed athletes can qualify for the sport through a number of conditions, like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Winslow said many of them need help in their daily lives, but on the court, they're unstoppable.
"Even if they can't raise their arms or can't move very much, they're still able to drive their chair and execute incredible moves. Just the sense of being independent like that is incredible and empowering," Winslow said. "We're no different than any other elite athlete out there in any other sport."
The 2023 FIPFA Powerchair Football World Cup will take place from Oct. 14-20 at the Quaycentre in Sydney, Australia. The 2023 format will see 10 different countries play each other over the course of five days. The top four teams will advance to the knockout round, with the semifinals and final to take place Oct. 19 and 20, according to U.S. Soccer.