The 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championship gets underway at the University of Worcester in England tomorrow, with 12 men’s teams and seven women’s teams set to battle it out for the right to be crowned continental champions as well as vital Rio 2016 berths.
The event, which is the sole qualifying tournament for next year’s Paralympic Games, begins with two sessions of action as well as the Opening Ceremony.
Defending women’s champions The Netherlands play Spain in the first game of the competition before France take on Germany.
Following the Opening Ceremony, the evening session features both British teams as their women play Turkey before their men make their bow at the tournament when they entertain the Czech Republic.
Seven teams will compete in the women’s event in a round-robin format, with the top four progressing to the semi-final stage.
The men’s tournament meanwhile sees the 12 participating nations split into two groups of six, with hosts Britain in Pool A alongside the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain and Poland.
The six teams that make up Pool B are Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
The teams who finish in the top four of the women’s competition will secure a spot at Rio 2016, while the top five men’s teams will also seal their ticket to next year’s Paralympic Games.
The host nation come into the men’s event looking to secure a third consecutive European Wheelchair Basketball Championship following their victories at Nazareth in 2011 and in Frankfurt in 2013.
Organisers of the competition, which runs until September 6, are hoping to garner similar support to that of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, urging locals to come out in force to get behind the home nation.
“At London 2012 we saw first-hand the power and energy the British public can generate when they get behind their home side,” British Wheelchair Basketball director of performance Paul Davies said.
“We would urge families across Worcester to help the squad by getting behind their team when it matters the most – that’s right here, right now.”
It is estimated that the 2015 Championships will attract a live audience of around 15,000 people, engaging spectators from across Europe.
June 2015: Britain choose 12-strong women's team for European Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Worcester
March 2015: European Wheelchair Basketball Championships schedule announced
January 2015: Group stage draw made for European Wheelchair Basketball Championship
December 2014: Worcester Cathedral to host draw for 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships
June 2013: Britain to host 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships