The University of Worcester has been selected as one of four universities to become part of a new women’s premier league for British Wheelchair Basketball.
The League will be the first of its kind for women’s wheelchair basketball in the world, and the very first professional para-sport league in the UK.
The University of Worcester will be one of four High-Performance Partnerships, which also include Cardiff Metropolitan University, Loughborough University and the University of East London, that will each be home to a women’s premier league team.
Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball player, and University of Worcester graduate, Sophie Carrigill, welcomed the news. “This is something that is so exciting for our sport, putting women’s wheelchair basketball on the map and hopefully showing more people what an amazing sport it is,” she said. “It’s great the see the Worcester are reuniting with wheelchair basketball. The Arena is such a great facility to train in but also to play our games in. What an incredible thought it is that we could have big crowds come to watch us.”
She added: “I spent five years of my life in Worcester, being a student and also working for the University and I loved it. It’s such a great city and a great community that I know will get behind wheelchair basketball.”
The Worcester franchise will join the University’s Worcester Wolves family of basketball teams, which includes the professional BBL men’s team – which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – as well as the men’s and women’s national league teams.
University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green CBE, said: “The University of Worcester is thrilled to be able to continue to play an active role in the development of British Wheelchair Basketball. The University was home to the men’s and women’s teams in the lead up to the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio, and hosted the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball championships, one of the most successful disability sporting events in recent times. The University’s work to promote inclusive sport is recognised across the globe and we are therefore delighted to be selected as part of this High-Performance Partnership initiative, which is ground breaking and exciting in so many ways. This wonderful initiative will increase participation in sport, creating opportunities for many children and adults alike and provide a powerful pipeline of top talent for the marvellous British Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team.”
The introduction of the League is a game-changing moment for the sport and will attract the world’s best wheelchair basketball players, signposting the UK as a destination for high level, quality competition for aspiring female talent. The first season will run from December 2021 to May 2022.
The creation of the Women’s Premier League is integral to British Wheelchair Basketball’s 12-year strategy, which set out bold targets of delivering a Professional Domestic League, developing a world- class high-performance system and doubling participation in the sport.
The High-Performance Partnerships will be centres of excellence for wheelchair basketball in the UK for both men and women. These Partnerships will develop and nurture wheelchair basketball talent, acting as hubs to incubate and develop future elite athletes and increase access to the Paralympic talent pathways across the UK.
Lisa Pearce, British Wheelchair Basketball’s Chief Executive, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be announcing the creation of British Wheelchair Basketball’s Women’s Premier League and our new High-Performance Partnerships. The league will provide incredible opportunities for elite female talent, both in the UK and internationally and we expect the teams to attract the best players in the world.
“We have selected four fantastic universities to become the first British Wheelchair Basketball High-Performance Partnerships and these hubs will be absolutely central to the sport as we work to deliver our World Class Performance Programme strategy. They will nurture talent and facilitate the opportunity for world-class athletes to adopt a dual career approach.
“Today is an important moment in achieving our big ambitions for the sport and working with the universities is central to raising the profile of the sport, building new audiences and creating more opportunities for people to play across all levels.”
The High-Performance Partnerships are now recruiting elite players for their Women’s Premier League teams and their university BUCS teams.
To find out more, visit www.britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/womens-premier-league.