Recent Breakthroughs in Women’s Wheelchair Basketball
In a breakthrough for para-sport and women’s sports industries, the British Wheelchair Basketball association reveals the first-ever professional female league will start in 2022. This progressive move celebrates the UK’s first elite Para-Sports tournament.
The ‘British Wheelchair Basketball Women’s Premier League’ is set to incorporate teams established at Universities across the UK, including East London, Worcester, Cardiff Metropolitan and Loughborough. This expansion enables players who currently play centrally to select their next club, which will become training grounds for leading athletes. The tournament will consist of around 60% UK players and 40% international players, boosting the sport in the UK and promoting its international presence.
This is a milestone for women’s basketball and for wheelchair basketball. Let us look at the representation of both, and what this move signifies for the sport.
Increasing representation in Women’s Basketball
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and women’s basketball is currently maintaining its pace. Whilst gender imbalances still exist, there are several professional women’s basketball leagues on the global stage, including North America’s WNBA and the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Women’s basketball developed in the US in the late 1800s, primarily through college competitions, but its popularity spread rapidly alongside its male equivalent. Today it is one of the most popular female sports, with representation in many countries. Basketball is huge in Spain and women’s basketball is represented by Spain’s Liga Femenina, which too has a global presence.
Along with the evolution of the sport has come the increasing popularity of basketball betting. The growing strength of women’s basketball and women’s sports is signified on sports betting platforms, which now provide the latest odds for both men’s and women’s sports leagues all over the world. If you want to view the odds or back your favourite team in any major sport, oddschecker offer free bets for new customers to test the water.
Wheelchair basketball began around 1945 as a means of rehabilitation for WW2 veterans in the United States. The popularity of the sport was unstoppable and by 1960 it featured at the Paralympic Games in Italy as one of the ‘initial eight’. The sport is now played in close to 100 countries and has developed into an energy-intense, respected Paralympic discipline. Wheelchair basketball has made great headway for the representation of disabled athletes, but gender inequalities still exist. Statistics show that 70% of wheelchair basketball players are men, whereas 30% are women. In local leagues women often play together with men, meaning that they do not hold the positions they would in an all-women’s team.
The British Wheelchair Basketball Women’s Premier League is important for the identity of the sport and the empowerment of female athletes. Players will now play at stadiums weekly, helping to increase fan-base, reach communities and inspire supporters. The UK international player Siobhán Fitzpatrick hopes this move will change the identity of the sport, enabling players to be seen as elite athletes as well as disabled athletes.