Wheelchair Basketball SA have put their faith in the future, with no fewer than five of last years national Under-23 team, set to be a part of on-court action when the Sasol SA Senior National Mens wheelchair basketball team competes in a 8-nation international tournament in Agadir, Morocco, next week.
Free Stater Kyle Louw, KwaZulu Natals Thabane Tshange, Capetonian Shane Williams, Pretoria-based Steven Walgenbach, and Lisolomzi Mazantsana from Johannesburg, were a part of the national U23 team which did duty at the World Championships held in Turkey last year.
When one considers that 80 nations in the world play wheelchair basketball, South Africa did really well to be among the top 12 countries at the world under 23 championships, and we are pleased to give Louw, Tshange, Williams, Walgenbach and Mazantsana, a new platform as part of the Sasol national senior mens team in Morocco, said Wheelchair Basketball SA CEO Charles Saunders.
The inclusion of the younger players is a sign of Wheelchair Basketball SAs commitment towards developing the sport, as we look to create a national squad of immense depth.
Saunders also announced that North West-based wing Rakgetsing Molete has been called up to the team to replace Tshepo Nkoana who has been forced to withdraw due to work commitments.
The national bodys four-year development blueprint forms a part of the vision drawn up by national team head coach Franck Belen.
We have a shortlist of more experienced players that we could possibly call back to the Sasol national senior team for the home series against France in July, but it will always be difficult for our youngsters to step up to the next level if we dont give them the opportunities, and the tour to Morocco will serve as a good gauge as far as their progress in the sport over the past few months is concerned.
Earlier this month, Belen announced that he will take up a seat in the grandstand in Morocco, to allow assistant coaches Shadrack Moepeng and Max McLean the opportunity to develop further coaching abilities in international level competition.
The Sasol South African national team have been drawn in Pool B and will face Senegal (June 9), Angola (June 10) and Morocco A (June 11), before playoff matches begin on June 12. Pool A will consist of Morocco B, Egypt, Algeria and Iraq.
Sasol Sponsorship Specialist Dumisani Mbokane said that the developmental approach to the wheelchair basketball scene is a sign of planting the seeds that will nurture top product in time to come. Sasol witnessed a similar developmental approach through the sponsorship of the national womens football team (Banyana Banyana), and believe that Wheelchair Basketball SA is on the right road as far as preparing the players and indeed the sport, for a new dawn is concerned, said Mbokane.
Sasol South African Senior Mens Wheelchair Basketball Team to travel to Morocco:
Kyle Louw (Pumas Club, Free State), Jaco Velloen (Bladerunners Club, Gauteng North), Thabane Tshange (Wings Club, KwaZulu Natal), Luvuyo Mbande (Lions Club, North West), Shane Williams (Saints Club, Western Cape), Samuel van Niekerk (Pumas Club, Gauteng North), Cecil Dumond (Lions Club, Free State), Mpho Mooketsi (Mongoose Club, North West), Simanga Mbhele (Lions Club, North West), Steve Walgenbach (Bladerunners Club, Gauteng North), Lisolomzi Mazantsana (Eagles Club, Central Gauteng), Rakgetsing Molete (Lions Club, Free State)
In the picture above, Thabane Tshange (green) and Rakgetsing Molete (white) in training camp action. Photo: Abbey Sebetha/Bakonepix