Disabled athletes and students at Wits face an uphill battle if they want to compete in sport.

Soccer player Katleho Sera, 2nd year BA, and blind rower Sisanda Msekele, 3rd year BA, are two Wits students who train at UJ because Wits does not have a disabled sports programme or training staff.

Sera, who has cerebral palsy, said support from Wits was a big problem. “I play soccer at UJ and on the day of my national trials I had to walk to UJ because I had no transport.

“Quinton van Rooyen, whose one portfolio was disabled sports, used to help us but when rugby season started he got busy and when he left no one from Sports Administration informed me or the Disabled Awareness Movement (DAM).”

The DAM said Wits does not have trainers and proper equipment for students with disabilities to train or practise with.

UJ sports manager for students with disabilities, Henriette Vermaak, said Wits and UJ needed to pool resources.

She said Msekele was given a rowing machine by UJ to help with her training because Wits did not have rowing machines.

Vermaak also said that the development of other disabled sports such as blind tennis and swimming had been delayed because of a lack of facilities.

“UJ does not have a quiet venue to hold blind tennis tournaments but Wits does, but when approached, Wits said the venues were not available at the times we needed them.”

Wits Sports Administration said Wits offered a number of disabled sports and had a disabled sports club but students were not interested.

Jimmy Ramokgopa, 3rd year Civil Engineering and secretary of the DAM said: “How will Wits or Sports Administration get students with disabilities interested in sports if they don’t introduce a programme.”

Ramokgopa said DAM had no knowledge of there being a disabled sports club at Wits.

He reiterated the call for collaboration between Wits and UJ to further develop disabled sport in Gauteng.

“UJ has the athletes, we have the facilities, so we need to work together,” Ramokgopa said.

UJ has 34 disabled athletes, 11 of whom went to the 2012 Paralympics.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela, 25th Edition, 21 September 2012