Basketball ace makes provincial cut

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Ms Phelisa Loleka, a final-year Bachelor of Social Work student, will be part of the Eastern Cape team that will compete in the upcoming SA National Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Vodacom Challenge. The competition is hosted by Wheelchair Basketball SA and games will be played in Cape Town on 1-4 November.The 23-year-old from Ngcobo lost her ability to walk when her legs were infected with gangrene at age 14. Her left leg had to be amputated below the knee and her right ankle was removed after she contracted a bone infection called osteomyelitis. At the time, the young teen had to rely on a wheelchair to get around and had lost hope of ever walking again. However, all that changed during her second year of study at the University Fort Hare.

The university’s Disability Unit (DU) rallied around and got her a pair of prosthetic limbs. The DU’s efforts paid off when Pholela was fitted with two high-tech prosthetics manufactured at cost price by Dr Gary Bolton from Bolton and Associates Orthotics and Prosthetics. Subsequently, an internal initiative, the Half-Tiger was launched. Students and staff were encouraged to donate R5 to raise R35 000 to pay for the balance.

Phelisa’s love for basketball is unmatched and not even her disability could stand in her way.

“My disability changed my life tremendously because it motivated me to believe in my abilities - my ability to become a social worker, my ability to play a male-dominated sport and my ability to uplift and empower women with disabilities”, she said.

This inspiring and vibrant young woman describes herself as a hard worker, an ambitious and focused person.

Her motto is: “Through hard work and determination anything is possible.

Her dream is to become captain of the provincial team as well as play for the national team.