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Coach Belen adds six to national wheelchair basketball squad
- Updated: July 10, 2015
Sasol SA Senior men’s national wheelchair basketball team head coach Franck Belen has called up no fewer than six new players to his 18-strong squad, for the opening Green vs Gold match, which will take place at the Mandeville Sports Club, near Johannesburg on Saturday.
The national squad has also been boosted by the presence of Richard Nortjie, Aye-Htun Ohn and Siphomandla Gumbi, all of whom have represented South Africa at previous Paralympic Games.
The Green vs Gold fixtures, to be played tomorrow, 8 August and 12 September, will see a strength vs strength South African squad select teams playing off against each other as the head coach looks to build towards the 5-international Sasol All Star Series (28 August to 5 September) and the International Wheelchair Basketball Qualifiers in Algeria (31 October to 7 November).
Belen, pictured above, has called up uncapped players in the form of Tucker Beckett (Gauteng), Jack Mokgosi (North West), Jimmy Mafengu (Gauteng), Allen Mtatse (North West), Sifiso Gama (Gauteng) and MagDonald Kganyago (Gauteng).
With only one African team permitted to represent the continent at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, the challenge is down to the Sasol Amawheelaboys who were one of the 12 national teams that competed at the 2012 London Paralympics.
Belen said that many of the new players were identified during the domestic wheelchair basketball season.
‘The Green vs Gold matches are aimed at putting equal strength South African line ups on to the court so that the form of the players can be monitored, ahead of the Sasol All Star Series at the end of August, which will see the Sasol Amawheelaboys take on New Zealand,’ said Belen, who joined Wheelchair Basketball SA after the 2012 Paralympics, having previously been the French wheelchair basketball team head coach.
Sasol Group Sponsorship Manager Richard Hughes wishes the national squad the best of luck for the 2015 campaign, and said: ‘Sasol has been a committed sponsor of the South African senior men’s wheelchair basketball team since 2007, and prides itself on partnering with Wheelchair Basketball SA in elevating the status of this sports team to become role models across all communities. I hope the public will rally behind the Sasol Amawheelaboys in this important Paralympic qualifying year.’
The Mandeville doors open at 12.30pm on Saturday and the first 50 persons to enter the venue will each receive complimentary Sasol T-shirts.