Wheelchair basketball has received a major boost in its ambition to become the first fully-inclusive team sport to be introduced to the BUCS Competition programme; with the sport progressing to the final stage of the Cycle Two of the Sport Review.
Announced as one of five proposals to have advanced through to the implementation stage, this momentous proposal has been developed to support existing wheelchair basketball programmes, whilst encouraging new university clubs and teams to access the sport.
Following a successful implementation stage, the sport will be added to the BUCS Competition programme for the 2020-21 academic year.
The latest announcement sees British Wheelchair Basketball (BWB) continue to drive ground-breaking changes to disability sport with the sport allowing mixed genders, disabled and non-disabled people to play on the same team.
Wheelchair basketball would be the most inclusive sport within the BUCS programme; providing opportunities for participants to play with their peers regardless of their ability or gender.
The sport’s introduction to the BUCS programme would also help BWB work further towards its vision, values and mission, set-out in its 2019-2024 strategy, revealed in March 2019.
Whilst British Wheelchair Basketball already hosts a well-established University programme, including the annual University Championships, the sport’s introduction to the BUCS programme would allow the number of institutions and participants to significantly increase at an extremely exciting time for the sport.
With GB Men and Women among the leading contenders at next year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the sport’s introduction into the BUCS Competition programme would offer a huge opportunity to continue to raise the profile of the sport and breakdown perceptions.
Following a member-wide consultation process throughout November, the implementation stage will now test the feasibility of each proposal with institutions and student-athletes directly impacted. Progress updates will be provided by the BUCS National Competitions Group throughout 2020.
Commenting on the announcement, British Wheelchair Basketball Participation Director Jo Richards said:
“This is really exciting news for wheelchair basketball and disability sport, and we are extremely proud – as a sport and as an organisation – to be leading the way in making ground-breaking changes like this.
“There should be no barriers for students when participating in sport at university and wheelchair basketball really does epitomize this; it doesn’t matter what gender you are, or whether you are disabled or non-disabled – wheelchair basketball is for everyone.
“We have seen first-hand the positive impact wheelchair basketball can have on university students through the programmes which are already established, and the addition to the BUCS Competition programme will only continue this further and allow more institutions and people to access the sport.
“A lot of work has already gone into putting the proposal together – including from our partner institutions – and we look forward to continuing to work hard to ensure wheelchair basketball is added to the BUCS Competition programme ahead of next season.”
Commenting on the outcome of Cycle Two, BUCS Director of Delivery Jenny Morris said:
“It is exciting to see the Sport Review process continue to evolve and provide such a fantastic opportunity for sports to improve their offer within Higher Education. I’d like to thank all the proposers for their hard work and commitment in engaging with the process. A number of the proposals have been in development for over 18 months, so it was brilliant to see institutions provide such valuable feedback during the consultation phase.
“We will now work with proposers, institutions and student-athletes to ensure that the proposals continue to progress. We look forward to seeing what changes may be possible for next season.”