Wheelchair basketball is considered by many to be the most exciting wheelchair sports. It certainly attracts the most spectators during the Paralympics. In Sydney 2000, over 300,000 people attended the games.
The game of wheelchair basketball is comparable to able-bodied basketball, which is why many associations are integrated. Tactics are similar, but the chair allows a player to create more effective screens. The court size and basket height is the same (no dunking!), but there is no second dribble and three pushes without bouncing the ball is a travelling violation.
The game was first played by US war veterans in 1946. The first international game was played between Great Britain and the Netherlands in England at the International Stoke Mandeville Games. Today, the total number of players worldwide is approximately 30,000.
Wheelchair basketball is not only for people ‘confined’ to wheelchairs. Over half of athletes have amputated limbs or other handicaps, preventing them playing ‘able-bodied’ basketball or other competitive sports. In many ways, the wheelchair is considered similarly to a bicycle; a sports enabler.
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) was founded in 1973 as a sub-commission of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federations and renamed in 1989. Since 1993 the IWBF is the independent world governing body for wheelchair basketball. It currently has 4 geographic Zones; the Americas, Africa/Arab; Oceania/Asian and Europe. More than 90 countries throughout the world are active in wheelchair basketball at international level.
IWBF Europe is the European organisation for the sport of wheelchair basketball. At the moment 31 European National Organisation governing Wheelchair Basketball (NOWB) are members of IWBF. As well as developing and promoting wheelchair basketball, IWBF Europe is responsible for organising European Championships A, B and C (every 2 years) for men, women and youth, as well as the EuroCups each year.