Wheelchair basketball brings peace to Blaise Mutware

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 12, 2023

Paralympian plays central role in team rebuilding


What Blaise Mutware remembers the most about playing wheelchair basketball for the first time is that it allowed him to forget.

“My rehab therapist knew the national team coach at the time and he brought me out to practice with some guys from the national team,” recalled Mutware, 29, who moved to Toronto from Zimbabwe with his mother at age 13.

“I was pretty bad but I just remember having a really good time and I forgot about my injury. It was the first time after my injury that I felt liberated, I felt free.”

At age 20, Mutware was enrolled in culinary school when he found himself confronted by two robbers and was shot. Most of the damage took place in his spine.

‘’After the accident I wasn’t sure where I was headed but basketball had always been an outlet for me,” he said. ‘’I was always watching the NBA.’’

Mutware was a very active youngster growing up in Africa. His first passion was soccer then he continued with track, volleyball, and tennis.

”I tried everything as a child, but soccer was always my go-to sport,” he said. ‘’I really thought I had a future in soccer growing up.’’

He first started playing wheelchair basketball with local club Variety Village Rebels in 2015. In the same year, he was invited to train with the National Academy Program at Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s National Training Centre.

He was named to the senior men’s national team in 2019 and that same year helped Canada to the silver medal at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. In 2021, he competed at his first Paralympic Games as Canada improved three spots on its 2016 performance, placing eighth.

‘’I’ve been working on my speed for the longest time, that was one thing I struggled with starting out,” he said. ‘’Everyone was faster than me, had better chair skills, so that’s something I focused on for a long time and now I think I’m known for my defensive skills.’’

Mutware is a major piece in the men’s team’s rebuilding process as it looks to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

‘’I’m one of the biggest guys on the court so a lot of it is ‘get me in the paint’,” said Mutware. ‘’Get the ball in there so I can try to finish over mismatched players.’’

With improved results since the squad hit rock bottom with a 12th at the last worlds in 2018, Mutware is confident Canada can grab one of the seven available spots for Paris 2024 (France gets one spot as host).

‘’It’s going to be a really good test for us to know where we are on the global scale,’’ he said about the 2023 worlds currently taking place in Dubai. ‘’I’m excited, I feel like I’m getting into the prime in my career and everybody is jumping in that stride as well.’’

‘’We can make some big noise in tournaments coming up.’’

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