Hillsborough County Earns National Award for Wheelchair Football Team
The Hillsborough County Buccaneers Wheelchair Football program not only fielded one of the top teams in the USA Wheelchair Football League (USAWFL) in its inaugural season, but it also fielded a top innovation award. Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation was named the 2022 National Recreation and Park Association Innovation in Social Equity Award winner for its wheelchair football program.
Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation has long had an active adaptive sports program featuring wheelchair basketball, track and field, archery, and other sports for those with disabilities but until last year, didn't include wheelchair football.
The Hillsborough County Buccaneers Wheelchair Football program was created in the spring of 2021 to increase competitive adaptive sports opportunities, serve Hillsborough County Veterans, and enable access to football for all in the community.
The County's team is one of nine national teams that compete in the USAWFL and is the only team in the league to represent a government agency. The team roster is made up of 21 players who all have a physical disability, with 40% of those athletes being Veterans.
Inaugural season partnerships with Move United, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, and the Wounded Warriors Project allowed the program to be accessible to all who wanted to play and be 100% free of cost for its athletes, including travel and equipment.
The Hillsborough County Buccaneers Wheelchair Football team is set to begin its 2022 season in August as it competes in three national tournaments, including one hosted here in Hillsborough County.
The Innovation in Social Equity Award recognizes a park and recreation agency leading an innovative project or program that improves access to the benefits of local parks and recreation experience for everyone in the community.