Dear Friends of Wheelchair Basketball,
As 2017 draws to a close, we want to reflect on what an exciting year it has been for our sport not only on the court with so many successful events, but also off the court as we sought to further professionalise our organisation.
On the court we were treated to a fantastic showcase of what the future holds at the Under 23 Men’s World Championships, which took place in Toronto in June. We are sure everyone would agree with us that the young up and coming talent on display showed the depth of the sport and that we have a very exciting future ahead.
We aren’t just blessed with exciting junior talent. It was our pleasure and privilege to attend all four Zonal World Championships Qualifiers this year and see the improvement and growth in all four zones. The level of competition was fierce at all of the qualifiers with places at next year’s World Championships at stake. We would like to extend our congratulations not only to the teams who qualified but to all 43 men’s and 19 women’s teams who participated in their respective zonal championships. We also must thank all the organisers, officials, teams and staff as without all of you we would not have any championships.
As always, one of our main objectives is to increase the number of people playing wheelchair basketball, and this year was no different. Thanks to funding from the Agitos Foundation, the IWBF Asia Oceania Zone were able to hold a camp which focused on encouraging more females to play. It took place in Chon Buri, Thailand and was very well received, as sixty-four women aged between 17 through to 51 attended the camp.
To continue to drive the sport forward, significant strides were needed to be taken off the court as well. The addition of two new employees to IWBF Operations team has allowed us to continue to restructure how we administrate the sport.
The extra capacity has allowed us to reach two key goals. One goal has been the implementation of a strategy to market the sport. The other major milestone is the creation of a new online classification database, which will provide an online portal for all international licensed classifiers at Zone and World level to access classification data.
Increasing the sport’s popularity and promotion has also been a major priority, so we have also enhanced the level of our external communication through our social media channels, website, e-news, and FIBA Daily to ensure everyone is able to access current and up-to-date information and news about our sport.
Lastly, this year has seen our cooperation with FIBA deepen and we have become a valued member of the basketball family. This was underlined by the unveiling of the wheelchair basketball exhibition at FIBA’s home, the House of Basketball, in April and presented to the wider basketball community by FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann during the FIBA Mid-Congress, held in May in Hong Kong.
With so much achieved in 2017, our focus now turns to 2018 as we look forward to what will be the biggest ever Wheelchair Basketball World Championships. Twenty-eight teams will participate in Hamburg between 16-26 August 2018.
During the World Championships, the IWBF World Forum and Congress will also be held and preparation for this is well underway. The aim of the Forum and Congress is to provide to all our members information on our vision for the sport as well as to give opportunities for the exchanging of ideas and networking.
Looking more long-term, our site visits to Tokyo confirmed the initial stages of planning towards the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is going well. We anticipate a very productive three years of planning ahead and a fantastic Paralympic Games as Japan gets ready to welcome the world.
Finally, we are able to reveal that IWBF has applied for the introduction of 3×3, a second discipline of wheelchair basketball, to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. We hope the introduction of a new format will increase the ability of more countries to be competitive and become successful in wheelchair basketball.
After reflecting on what has been a positive year for not only IWBF but the whole sport, we should celebrate our successes but not take for granted the work still to be done to achieve our ambitions, which we can only do working in unity with our national federations, partners, and wider stakeholders.
As we celebrate the coming of Christmas and the New Year, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your support and wish you and your families all the best for the coming year 2018!