British Wheelchair Basketball has launched the world's first professional women's league in the sport.
The creation of the inaugural Women’s Premier League, believed to be the first professional Para sport league in Britain, was announced by the national governing body today.
Franchise teams are set to be formed at four universities in the country, who have all signed high-performance partnerships with British Wheelchair Basketball.
These will be hosted by Cardiff Metropolitan University, Loughborough University, the University of East London and the University of Worcester.
British Wheelchair Basketball said they had started recruiting for their respective teams.
The partnerships will see the universities become centres of excellence for wheelchair basketball in the United Kingdom for men and women.
British Wheelchair Basketball expects the league will attract elite players from across the world, with chief executive Lisa Pearce claiming it will "provide incredible opportunities for elite female talent, both in the UK and internationally".
Fantastic work from @BritWheelBBall launching the UK’s first-ever professional para-sport league! 🏀— UK Sport (@uk_sport) April 20, 2021
A game-changing announcement for not only wheelchair basketball, but also disability and women’s sport 👏#TNLAthletes https://t.co/krrtpdqh3h
"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," said Pearce.
"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."
Amy Conroy, a member of the British women's team that finished second at the 2018 World Championships, also welcomed the move.
"The introduction of the Women’s Premier League is massive for the sport and for us as players," Conroy said.
"Historically there has been a bit of a gap in elite level competition for female players so I’m absolutely thrilled that British Wheelchair Basketball are ensuring we have equal opportunity to develop and flourish.
"The sport is fast-paced and high-octane, and I can’t wait for more people to be able to watch us in action.
"I hope that it will also challenge misconceptions about disability sport and inspire more people to try wheelchair basketball for themselves."