Scoot and score: Adapted volt hockey offers a new playing field for youngsters of all abilities

Alberta will soon be one of the few places in Canada that will offer volt hockey, an adapted form of floor hockey that uses a special motorized wheelchair to allow young people with mobility difficulties to scoot and score.

“It’s an amazing opportunity because Volt is so different from most adapted sports,” said J’ Ramsankar, coach of the soon-to-be Volt hockey team.

The specialized wheelchair has a paddle on the front, which acts similar to a hockey stick. The chair is controlled by a joystick, can reach speeds up to 16 km/h and turn 360 degrees on a dime. 

“Volt is like if indoor soccer and hockey and basketball had a weird baby together because it’s a little bit of everything,” said Ramsankar.

It’s a non-contact sport, played three-on-three or four-on-four, plus goalkeepers. The chair makes the game perfect for players with upper-body mobility difficulties, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. 

“It’s a very fast-paced game,” Ramsankar said on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active

Troy Pardely, 8, recently tested tried the sport and is excited to play volt hockey this fall. (Supplied by Charlotte Pardely)

There are already programs that run in Ontario but this is the first in Alberta. Some Edmontonians got to test the chairs during a recent trial day. 

“I like that they made something that kids with disabilities can actually have a lot of fun playing,” said eight-year-old Troy Pardely. 

He has already signed up for the upcoming season. 

“I’m excited to score goals.” 

Pardely has Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, where the muscles and nerves in his legs and arms die with age and he needs to use a wheelchair. His mother said exercise and activities can slow the disease’s progression. 

“We’ve got nothing but rave reviews because a lot of these kids, they don’t get to play like most of us. We can go outside, kick a ball around, get on the outdoor rink, and it’s like nothing. But for them, never has something been offered like this before,” said Ramsankar. 

Radio Active6:07There’s a new sport in town – Volt

The sport is geared towards young players with mobility difficulties, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. J’ Ramsankar is the coach of the new team in Edmonton. 6:07

The chairs cost up to $10,000 each and are custom-made by a Danish company.

The children’s charity Variety Alberta plans to run six-week sessions for $150, starting this fall in Calgary and Edmonton and plans to expand to Fort McMurray by winter. Funding is available for people for whom cost is a barrier. 

Everyone over age six is welcome, said Ramsankar.

“You don’t have to be a person living with a disability to play. You can bring your friends. You could bring your considered able-bodied brother or sister or best friend, and you can play together in a sport where everyone is on the same playing field.” 

The chairs would even be fun for team bonding events, said Ramsankar. 

Ramsankar said Variety Alberta is also looking for volunteers to help with the sport. 

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