Yesterday, following the conclusion of the 2014 men’s IWBF World Championships, IWBF President Maureen Orchard announced her retirement from the position. She will continue to serve as the IWBF’s Secretary General. Ulf Mehrens becomes the new president. The announcement was made publicly on IWBF’s website earlier today.
Orchard has been involved in basketball as a volunteer for 47 years, and for the past 12 years, has served as the IWBF President. She succeeded Sir Philip Craven in 2002, the current president of the International Paralympic Committee. She was re-elected in 2006 World Congress in Amsterdam, and elected for a third time 2010 World Congress in Birmingham, England.
According to the IWBF, during the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Orchard “became a pioneer for the role for women as leaders in sport in Canada during these years” because of her role in, amongst other things, selecting the Canadian men and women’s Olympic times.
She first became involved in wheelchair basketball in 1985, when became the treasurer of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association, serving as the chair of the basketball division from 1987 until 1993. She was a key player in the 1993 creation of the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association, where she served as president for five years.
In 1992, she became the Vice-President of the FIBA Council for Basketball for Persons with a Disability, leaving the position fourteen years later in 2006. In 1996, she was elected to the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Board of Directors, serving for three years and assisting in rewriting the organization’s constitution.
In 2009, she was awarded the Canadian True Sport Leadership Award for Volunteer Achievement. She was a 2012 Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contribution to the advancement of the Paralympic Movement in Canada.
The IWBF pays tribute to her in their announcement, saying:
Mrs. Orchard was not involved in wheelchair basektball internationally for glory or personal opportunity. She has volunteered countless thousands of hours of her time because she believes in the value of sports as part of people’s lives and the development of healthy communities. She also believes in the power of sport to provide opportunities for individual’s with or without disabilities to challenge themselves and their commuities to excel to high standards. To her sport is sport and athletes are athletes and she has stated that all individuals should be afforded the opportuity to participate in sport, whether as a volunteer, official, coach or athlete at the highest levels they seek to achieve.