History of the Game
Wheelchair basketball was first played in 1945 in the USA at Veterans Hospitals. Wheelchair basketball was also played on an ad hoc basis in Veterans Hospitals in England. The game was seen as an opportunity to get veterans active and to provide positive physical and psychological experiences through sport.
First National Tournament in USA
In 1948, sixteen World War II veterans started a netball tournament at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England. In 1949, the first National USA Tournament was held in Galesburg, Illinois. This was the beginning of the formation of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (USA). The first International Stokes Mandeville Games (ISMG) were held in 1952 at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in England between a group of English and four Dutch war veterans
First Draft Rules Established
In 1958, draft rules were established and wheelchair netball became wheelchair basketball and a form of dribbling was allowed. The ISMG were held in Rome immediately following the Olympics in 1960 and were to become known as the Paralympic Games (from “Parallel Olympics”). There were two divisions - complete and incomplete paraplegics.
FIBA basketball rules were accepted for Paralympic Competition
The basic FIBA basketball rules were accepted for Paralympic competition and in 1966, the two divisions - complete and incomplete - were merged into a single competition. Athletes were classified into three classes and each classification was assessed a number of points. The team could have 12 points on the court at the one time
Women's Division was introduced at the 1968 Paralympics
A women's division was introduced at the 1968 Paralympics and the two divisions of complete and incomplete paraplegics for men was reintroduced
First Women's European Championship
The first European Championship was held for women in 1974. In 1980, there was a petition to the International Stokes Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation to allow amputees to play, which was adopted.
‘Strohkendl System of Functional Classification’ Introduced
The ‘Strohkendl System of Functional Classification’ was introduced in 1982 and approved in 1983. The competition then returned to only one division with the 4-point classification system (which is detailed in section 2) ensuring that all athletes are provided a fair opportunity to participate.
First Official 3x3 Wheelchair Basketball Tournament
The first ever IWBF 3x3 Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was staged in South Africa as part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Qualifiers.