Member Insights Wheelchair Basketball

Member Insights: Wheelchair Basketball’s journey to the commonwealth games

July 20, 2022

President of the IWBF Ulf Mehrens, looks forward to the sport’s debut at the Commonwealth and it’s global growth.

Wheelchair basketball continues to be one of the most engaging and popular sports within the Paralympic Games, with over 100,000 playing the game globally, and we have seen a fantastic growth over recent years where more and more people are able to be introduced to the sport at a recreational level. The upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will see wheelchair basketball making its Commonwealth debut – and will be the first time ever that the 3×3 wheelchair basketball format has been played on a world stage.

This will only help engage more players to play at every level. Thanks to the continued efforts in delivering events and developing new formats of the game to increase opportunities, there are ever- expanding domestic playing bases putting the sport on the map like never before and creating more access points for people to start their wheelchair basketball journey.

It is a sport that I and so many others around the world love, never failing to capture the hearts and attention of viewers and fans at the Paralympics, World Championships and now the Commonwealth Games where you see the speed, skill, and tactical battles in full force. The previous three years have seen their challenges and complexities – the pandemic meant there were no major international competitions for over a year.

Challenging times have only reiterated to us how important it is that we seize the opportunity to progress and work on making our sport even more accessible, engaging and forward-thinking. Wheelchair basketball’s Commonwealth debut is the perfect time to do exactly this, the momentum of a major competition will no doubt inspire more engagement and more innovation in the sport.

As we continue to work hard to develop and improve our sport, not only for our current players at all levels of the game, but for the many others around the world who would like opportunities to engage with wheelchair basketball, it is essential that we put the voices of our players and participants at the forefront of the game’s development.

We are putting this into action by launching a consultation process to assist in shaping a 10-year Global Strategy for the sport of wheelchair basketball – where we can get a full picture as to the views and needs of wheelchair basketball members and the sport’s wider community.

Our goal is to produce a shared vision of the sport, engaging with those who know the sport best and are passionate about introducing the game to newer audiences. Through this strategy development plan, we want to ensure that not only are we able to grow and see wheelchair basketball continue as one of the powerhouses of the Paralympic movement, but that the progress we make is always serving our community.

To achieve this, we will be taking a truly collaborative approach, working closely with 104 National Organisations of Wheelchair Basketball worldwide and the 100,000 plus who play the game globally for an intimate understanding as to the specific needs and challenges that we can seek to address to make wheelchair basketball as far-reaching, accessible, and engaging as possible.

The voices of clubs and players across the world will then directly feed into IWBF’s strategic outcomes for the global strategy directives and guidelines, and help to build a sustainable platform to grow the sport over the next 10 years.

This as an incredible opportunity to take the passion and lived experience of those involved in wheelchair basketball at every level and integrate this thinking into our every action to improve the sport.

The consultation is in the form of two short surveys – one for members of the National Organisations governing Wheelchair Basketball, and the other a short multiple-choice survey for the wheelchair basketball community.

This will ensure that everyone, at every level of the game, can input and assist in shaping the future of the game worldwide.

In partnership with British Wheelchair Basketball through funding from the UK Sport International Relations Fund, IWBF has been fortunate to be able to appoint world-renowned global management consultancy firm, Portas, to lead on the creation of this new long-term strategy for the sport.

Following the pandemic which has stagnated progress across sport more broadly, I believe now is the time to instead look forward. This approach will see us utilise the invaluable expertise of those involved in the sport, to implement proactive measures for improving the experience of wheelchair basketball for all.

I invite anyone who is passionate about the sport to join us at the start of this journey, and help us make meaningful and exciting changes that will help take wheelchair basketball to the next level.

Member Insights Wheelchair Basketball