The sport of wheelchair basketball emerged out of the Second World War (1939-1945). As a result of this global conflict, society was confronted with an unusual number of people with physical disabilities. Following the war, veterans with disabilities were placed in hospitals for rehabilitation and many still possessed a desire to participate in sports.
The philosophy of the day was adaptation of particular sports as viewed through the eyes of rehabilitation staff. Basketball was perceived to be one of the most adaptable team sports and was played in various parts of the world in the early 1940's, including Canada. The first documented game of wheelchair basketball was played on November 25, 1946 by a group of veterans in the United States.
Wheelchair basketball was one of eight sports that debuted at the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960. The women’s wheelchair basketball competition was later introduced at the 1968 Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv. Today, wheelchair basketball is one of the premiere sports contested at the Paralympic Summer Games, which take place every four years in the same year and city as the Olympics.
The first world wheelchair basketball championship for men took place in Bruges, Belgium in 1975 and featured competition between teams from North America, Asia and Europe. The inaugural world championship for women took place in St. Etienne, France in 1990. Canada hosted the first-ever world championship for junior men (under-23) in 1997 in Toronto, as well as the first-ever world championship for junior women (under-25) in 2011 in St. Catharines, Ontario.
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) governs the sport at the global level. According to the IWBF, nearly 100 countries and more than 100,000 people participate in wheelchair basketball at various levels around the world.
Wheelchair basketball in Canada is played in accordance with IWBF rules, which have been modified from the Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) rules. Athletes participate in programs at various levels across the country, including the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL), which was founded in 1986. Wheelchair basketball is an inclusive sport in Canada, as both athletes with a disability and able-bodied athletes compete together on a level playing field.
Wheelchair basketball was first contested at the Canada Games in 1995 in Grande Prairie, Alberta.