The Vodacom Wheelchair Basketball Challenge will celebrate 21 years of showcasing the inspiring talents of athletes with disability at the Mandeville Indoor Sports Centre on 5 December, and with Paralympic star, Kat Swanepoel serving as the ambassador for this year’s event.
Swanepoel’s inspiring story will usher in a weekend of intense wheelchair basketball action as the North West seek to defend their title in the chase for the R100 000 prize on offer in both the senior men and senior women’s finals.
In 2019, the last time the competition was played before the COVID-19 pandemic, the North West became the first province in the history of wheelchair basketball in South Africa to win the Under-23, Senior Men and Senior Women’s finals. They’ll again face strong competition from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
But the main focus of this year’s event will be on the victory of every single participating athlete to have overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds against them and rise to the challenge of inspiring a new generation of wheelchair basketball athletes in this country. And Swanepoel’s journey will serve as ample inspiration.
“You have to have the opportunity to compete in order to get better.” – Paralympic Athlete, Kat Swanepoel
Swanepoel, who in 2008 was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis, has represented her country in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and swimming, and missed a bronze medal by only half a second in the 50-metre S4 Backstroke at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The Wheelchair Basketball Challenge is a competition that she is particularly passionate about as someone who benefitted from finding and joining this community of athletes at a time when she was at her lowest after her diagnosis.
“I’ve had the privilege of playing in a few Vodacom-sponsored wheelchair basketball tournaments. You have to have the opportunity to compete in order to get better,” says Swanepoel.
“With funding drying up and people with disabilities often being overlooked, Vodacom stands out as a company that gives its all for disabled sport. They believe in it, even to the extent that they’re passionate about giving equal support to the men and women.”
Swanepoel is the perfect illustration of how the power of opportunity combined with her own determined nature can create new heroes in South African sport.
The Vodacom Wheelchair Basketball Challenge finals will be played on Sunday, 5 December 2021, with live broadcast on SuperSport.
Photo 1 Caption: The Vodacom Wheelchair Basketball Challenge will celebrate 21 years of showcasing the inspiring talents of athletes with disability at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Sports Centre on 5 December, and with Paralympic star, Kat Swanepoel serving as the ambassador for this year’s event. Photo: Supplied
With editing by gsport