Wheelchair basketball boys and girls all geared up for qualifiers

The South African senior men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams are set to depart to Ethiopia later this week, where they will compete at the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Africa World Championship qualifiers. The tournament will be held from 23 to 29 January.

The main goal for the teams – nicknamed AmaWheelaBoys and AmaWheelaGirls – is to earn a spot at the World Championships which will be hosted in Japan.

But, the first hurdle is obviously the qualifiers, where the women’s team will be competing against Algeria and Ethiopia and coach Ntombi Mthombeni says they are more than prepared for the competition.

“Well, because of Covid, it has been a long time since we last competed in a big tournament. But we are happy that we will be going to Ethiopia for the qualifiers and we have been working really hard with the whole team to make sure that we qualify for the World Championships,” said the AmaWheelaGirls coach during the send-off, organised by sponsors Sasol.

The AmaWheelaBoys, meanwhile, will be competing for a place at the championship against Algeria, Kenya and Ethiopia. With the Algerians being the highest ranked team on the continent, coach Max McLean says they will be going into the tournament as underdogs.

“We know that Algeria will be the favourites to win the tournament. But we have analysed all our opponents, we know what to expect from them and I think we will be ready for the tournament,” said McLean.

“But, the team is prepared, the boys are hungry. We have about six players who have graduated from the Under-23 team and when you see them play you can’t even tell that they are young. They are very passionate about the sport and talented, so I trust that the team will do well.”

The teams will leave the country for Ethiopia on Friday.

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