Jasper Wilson gives us an introduction to a US national team you might not know about - the US Paralympic Team. In the first of a series of entries on the team and their qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Jasper lays out the facts of the sport also known as CP Soccer. Jasper himself is pool player for the US team.

- Jasper Wilson

The US Paralympic Soccer team recently returned from the CPISRA World Championships in Holland where they finished 8th out of 16 teams. Their performance qualified the team for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

What is Paralympic Soccer?

Paralympic Soccer was created in 1984. The sport is more commonly referred to as CP Soccer and is played 7-a-side with smaller goals (5x2 meters) and a smaller field (75x55 m) than traditional 11-a-side. Other differences include the absence of the offsides rule and the permission of underhand (bowled) throw-ins.

The creation of the US Paralympic team coincided with the creation of the sport in '84. Since then, the team has taken part in 3 Paralympic Games and has become a program underwritten by US Soccer. The team has been affiliated with US Paralympics since 1984

Who is eligible to play CP Soccer?

To be eligible to play CP soccer you must be male. You must also have cerebral palsy, be a stroke survivor, or have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Players are evaluated (classes 5 through 8) according to classifications based on how the neurological trauma affects the player's motor control (physical movements). A person classified as CP5 is a diplegic, meaning both legs are affected (spasticity and/or atrophy).

A CP6 is someone who is athatoid or ataxic, meaning shaky, wobbly, and has more difficulty controlling movements. A CP7 is someone who is hemiplegic; affected on one side, usually both arm and leg. CP7's have spasticity/atrophy on the affected side, and are fine on the other. A CP8 is any of those profiles but is affected so minimally that you barely see it during play.

The laws of the game dictate the number of players from each class that are allowed on the field. At all times, a team must have a 5 or a 6 and have no more than two 8s on the field.

Who makes up the national team?

Like any other USNT, the Paralympic team is selected from a larger pool of players. The players in the U.S. pool range in age from 15-32. They hail from Virginia, Ohio, New York, and California, where the team convenes regularly for training camps at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. The team’s head coach is Jay Hoffman, who was an assistant on the USWNT that won the World Cup in 1999. All of the coaches involved with the team hold USSF A Licenses.

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