National Wheelchair Basketball Coming to Louisville
Louisville is the new host city for the 2013 and 2014 National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Championship Tournaments. NWBA Tournaments draw roughly 1,000 athletes annually and next year’s tournament in Louisville is expected to make roughly 1 million dollars in revenue for the city. The tournament will be one of the largest athletic tournaments that Louisville will host in 2013 and the largest wheelchair basketball tournament in the world. The 2013 tournament is also expected to be the largest single wheelchair basketball tournament in the NWBA’s 65-year history. Next year’s tournament will be held April 17-21 at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center and HOOPS Multi-sport and Fitness Center.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is made up of 200 teams from 22 conferences and seven divisions. Founded in 1948, the NWBA has grown tremendously from where it began. Today there are men’s, women’s, intercollegiate, and junior-youth wheelchair basketball leagues across the Nation. The mission of the NWBA is “to provide qualified individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to play, learn, and compete in the sport of wheelchair basketball.”
The NWBA began after WWII when paralyzed veterans returned home, confined to wheelchairs. Many of these veterans found themselves in the same place, restless and unable to find something that met their physical and social needs. Sports such as ping pong, catch and pool, bowling, and water polo were some of the first sports that these veterans were introduced to. In 1946, the California Chapter of Parlayed Veterans played the first game of wheelchair basketball, and it changed everything. The popularity of the game was spread throughout the regional VA hospitals and eventually throughout the Nation. Tournaments were conducted and associations were built. Today, the sport is played Worldwide and is even included in the Paralympics.
The US Men and Women’s wheelchair basketball teams will be competing in London August 29-September 9 this year at the Paralympics. The Paralympics feature other wheelchair sports such as fencing, rugby and tennis and there are over 18 other events that include swimming, equestrian, and judo.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Championship Tournaments will have an excellent home in Louisville. Not only are we a huge sports town, but we are a city with a big heart. The Paralympics, and wheelchair basketball are inspiring and are a show of great athleticism. I am looking forward to next year’s tournament and I hope you will get out and support it as well.