Wheelchair-bound Isiphile, 14, finds hope in basketball
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Cape Town - Despite his disability, a young man from Gugulethu wants to see the sport he loves so much take him far.
Isiphile Ntenge, 14, lost his lower limbs at a very early age but he did not let his disability get in the way of a normal life.
He said like any child growing up in the township, he loved watching sport, especially soccer.
“I loved soccer so much and every time when I watched it I wished I could play, but because of my disability I could not even try it,” he said.
However, he said at school when other children are playing soccer, he also participates, carrying his body and using his hands to move the ball.
In 2017, one of his teachers suggested he try out for basketball because there were other wheelchair-bound people who played it.
He said before he was introduced to the sport, he knew nothing about it because where he stays no one plays or watches it.
“As I began playing basketball, I fell in love with it day by day and I dedicated myself even more, which saw me picked for the Western Province under-14 team,” he said.
Isiphile travelled outside of the province for the first time and played at the national tournament in Gauteng. The team came home with a silver medal.
He said he would love to succeed in the sport because he can see it as the only way he can become something in life.
“I become very happy when I’m on the court and bouncing the ball,” he said.
However, he said because of where he comes from, he will have to stay determined to succeed because no one plays it, especially not disabled people.
Isiphile said he is grateful for the support he gets from his family and school, which is what keeps him motivated even though he hasn’t played for some time.
“Since Covid-19, I haven’t had a chance to practise. The only time I touch the ball is when I’m at school because even at home I don’t have one ball,” said Isiphile.
He lives in a one-room shack with his parents and brother, which makes it hard to move around on his wheelchair.
His mother, Nosiphamandla, said she was shocked when she heard her son was playing basketball.
“I was called at his school and they told me he is playing basketball, I got shocked because I never saw anyone from our area playing. I didn’t know how he knew it,” she said.
Nosiphamandla said it was very important for her son to be active and involved in sport so he did not feel left out.
She said she would love for Isiphile to commit to the sport and take it further, but there were no resources in their community and the only time he got to play was at school.