Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
SIX paralympians from Victoria Falls are set to leave the country next week to participate in the Achilles Hope and Possibilities 24hr Handcycle Relay in Durban, South Africa.
The two-day invitational event is scheduled to start on Africa Day and end the next day at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Paralympians from different clubs and individuals will take part at the event whose aim is to raise funds for charity, with Ethembeni School for the Disabled in Durban the main beneficiary.
South African paralympian Guy Oliver Sinclair invited the Victoria Falls Wheelchair Warriors Club last year to participate at the event.
The team comprises coach Walter Ndlovu, captain Innocent Tevedzai, Clifford Donga, Silayezelo Phiri, Sazini Banda and Priscilla Mhlanga.
Phiri is a guest player from Bulawayo.
Ndlovu said the team is starting its preparations today in Bulawayo where they will be training at White City Stadium to have a feel of an international standard pitch.
“We will be camping in Bulawayo until the day of departure. This is a good opportunity for us as a club to be invited to this talent exchange event which started in 2009. It gives our players exposure,” said Ndlovu.
Sinclair and Tombs Motorways sponsored the team with transport from Victoria Falls to Durban.
Sinclair also donated two new wheelchairs to the club. Ndlovu said the team needs assistance to repair wheelchairs and other equipment.
“We are appealing to well-wishers to chip in with allowances for players, uniform as well as equipment repair. We are also appealing to Government and entire community to help change the sport from being a charity into a professional and commercial discipline so that players can earn a living. That way we can all afford to sustain ourselves,” he said.
Victoria Falls Wheelchair Warriors Club produced professional wheelchair bound players such as Tawana Luther Ziki who was identified by Ndlovu at Danhiko and is now playing wheelchair basketball in Italy.
Ziki is the first Zimbabwean to represent the country in wheelchair basketball in 2009.
Club captain Tevedzai said morale is high in camp ahead of the trip.
Sinclair said while the event is meant to raise awareness about Paralympics sport, it is also a great opportunity for local players to get exposure.