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The World Cup was a learning curve for SA Wheelchair Basketball Team

SOUTH African Under-23 men’s wheelchair basketball head coach, Allen Mtatase says his team, Amawheelies learned a lot from this year’s Men’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship experience, despite disappointing results.

Playing in the world tournament against eventual Champions Great Britain, Germany, Japan, USA and France, the team suffered defeats in their first-round outings of International Wheelchair Basketball. But the national team coach insists that the learnings Amawheelies have taken on and off the court, during the tournament held in Canada, will stand them in good stead for the future.

Mtatase said: “It has been a good opportunity to measure our progress and face teams that we do not play against normally and this can only make us better and assess where we are as a team and where we aim to be.

“Obviously, the boys will be disappointed but will learn from the experience and for sure it has been good to participate in the competition and we are grateful to our sponsors Sasol for enabling us to get here and compete.”

Nozipho Mbatha, Group Brand Marketing Manager at Sasol mentioned the great strides the team has made since the start of the championship. “I am confident that the team will bounce back from this,” says Mbatha. “Throughout their championship, you could see the team growing in confidence and learning from their opponents. The most important thing now for this team is settle back home and use the learnings from the World Championship to grow into a formidable team.

As the only African representative at the World Championships Amawheelies finished in position 12 from the competing teams and will be holding their heads up as they go back to their respective teams to get down to work.

Mbatha adds: “We at Sasol are delighted that the team got to this competition, most importantly that through our partnership with WBSA – we were able to afford people with disabilities with opportunities such as these ones to compete not only in the African continent, but also in the international stage.”

Despite the setbacks, team captain Musa Dlamini saw value in participating in this tournament. “If we want to be better, it helps to play better teams and that’s what we took from these championships,” says Dlamini. “As a team, we got a chance to see how other teams play and learn from watching and playing against them. This whole experience has helped us a great deal and it is now up to us to showcase what we have learnt as we go back to our teams back home.”

Team Great Britain were the eventual winners after defeating Turkey at the 2017 World Under-23 Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Australia secured a place on the podium by a victory against Japan.

Ayabonga Jim of South Africa during the Mens Under-23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship game between South Africa and Germany at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Canada. Picture by Barry Aldworth/eXpect LIFE

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