By Cole Harris
Cardiff Metropolitan University is set to be home to a new franchise in the British Wheelchair Basketball Women’s Premier League.
The new league will be the first professional para-sport league in the UK and the first of its kind for women’s wheelchair basketball in the world.
Cardiff Met Head of Basketball, Sarah Wagstaff said: “I think it’s an amazing opportunity for us because you know so many females, who at the moment have to compete coed wise, so they have to compete alongside their male counterparts which, as you can imagine, if you’re trying to perform on that same platform, there’s difficulties for the females, especially when they then go to Paralympics and they’re competing just against females.
“So, to have this as an opportunity for females to come together and compete against other female athletes, like you say, it’s the first of its kind in the world. So it’s fascinating, and it’s brilliant for British basketball who are really, kind of, world leading in the field.”
The University was awarded a High Performance Partnership by British Wheelchair Basketball alongside three other Universities – Loughborough University, University of East London and University of Worcester – as a centre of excellence for both men and women’s wheelchair basketball.
Speaking about the creation of the new league, Lisa Pearce, the Chief Executive of British Wheelchair Basketball 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 new league is scheduled to host its first season from January to May 2022.
Each partnership will also include recruiting for a University BUCS mixed team.
The partnerships are set to work as hubs for the current and future development of world class wheelchair basketball, as well as increasing access to the Paralympic talent pathways across the UK.
The connection with Universities with will also act as way to provide academic opportunities in allowing the option to adopt a dual career pathway for athletes.
The creation of the new league is a part of the British Wheelchair Basketball’s 12-year strategy, including the creation of a professional domestic league, the development of a world-class high-performance system and doubling participation in the sport.