The Sasol SA senior men’s wheelchair basketball team are chasing their dream of competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, and have been hard at training at the Mandeville Sports Club in Johannesburg.
In order to book a place at the Rio Paralympics, the South Africans will need to finish top at the African Qualifying Tournament to be held in Algeria from 28 October to 8 November this year and meet SASCOC selection criteria.
As part of the build up to the African qualifiers, the Sasol AmaWheelaBoys will take on New Zealand in a six-Test Sasol All Star Series, to be held in Gauteng from 28 August to 6 September.
The 2015 calendar also includes several training camps as well as having the national squad divided into equal strength green and gold teams to help national coach Franck Belen prepare the players for international action.
Belen, the former French national team coach, was recruited shortly before the 2012 London Paralympics, to head up Wheelchair Basketball SA’s High Performance programme and has brought much young talent through the ranks to the senior national team.
‘The Sasol AmaWheelaBoys team has changed quite a bit since they competed at the 2012 London Paralympics with several new players having made their mark on the international scene,’ said Belen.
‘I plan on blooding several other new faces at the training camps over the next few months with the players pushing hard at training in a bid to make the national team that will compete in the Sasol All Star Series and African qualifiers.’
Dumisani Mbokane, Sasol Sponsorship Specialist, wished the Sasol AmaWheelaBoys the best of luck for the 2016 season, stating: ‘The Sasol SA senior men’s wheelchair basketball team has been a true inspiration to many South Africans across all communities, proving that people with disabilities can play international sport, and I wish national coach Franck Belen and his players well in their quest towards qualifying for the Rio Paralympics.’
Picture of Lwando Mamfengu courtesy of Paul Martin