History created at the 2019 Lwini Cup in Luanda Angola!
The Sasol Amawheelagirls travelled to the capital of Angola, Luanda on the 27th of November to take part in the annual Lwini Foundation Cup for Wheelchair Basketball in Angola.
In 2018 the Sasol AmaWheelaBoys had clinched the Lwini Cup title against Angola and Switzerland, but this year it was the turn of our ladies to take part.
Our ladies are in the latter stages of their preparation for the 2020 IWBF Afro Paralympic Qualifiers and so the opportunity to travel to Angola, was one that Head Coach James Mthethwa relished so that he can assess the readiness of the team.
Despite the need for competition ahead of the qualifiers, the Lwini Cup of 2019 had a far bigger picture in mind, as the Comite Paralimpico Angolano had been struggling in previous years to develop their Women’s Wheelchair Basketball program.
With the incredible support of Lwini Foundation , an aid organization in Angola . Founded by first lady of Angola Ana Paula dos Santos (wife of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos ) which caters to civilian victims of land mines and other disabilities, Angola have been able to slowly develop their Wheelchair Basketball program and the Women’s game was launched in August 2019.
The opening days program on 28 November, saw the newly formed Angolan Womens National Team and the Sasol Amawheelagirls mixing the sides up and taking part in an friendship exhibition game so that the Angolan players could get a feel for the International game.
This was a worthwhile exercise as it allowed the players from both countries to meet and communicate and created an incredible atmosphere of good will between the two teams. The Amawheelagirls were great ambassadors for the country as they embraced the experience for what it was.
Day 2 on 29 November was an opportunity for the Sasol Amawheelagirls to get some much needed preparation in for the qualifiers. This came in the form of two really tough matches against the Angola Senior Men’s Team and the Angola Esperance (Emerging Men) Teams.
The Amawheelagirls were not intimidated by the bigger, stronger and faster male counterparts in either game, and for large parts in both games were with in 1 or 2 points of the Angolan Men. The fitness and speed of the Angolan Men won through in the end and they were able to pull away late in the second half of both matches.
Nonetheless, there is a lot to be optimistic about for the Sasol Amawheelagirls as they look to pry the African Title away from Algeria in January next year.
Saturday 30 November 2019 will go down in history as the first time ever that the Angolan Women’s National Team played an official International Wheelchair Basketball match, as they took on a young and up and coming Sasol Amawheelagirls in the Lwini Cup for 2019.
The occasion was truly not about the score of the game, but more of the celebration of further development of Wheelchair Basketball in Angola as well in the Southern Region of South Africa.
Wheelchair Basketball South Africa, are in the forefront of the development of the game in the region and we hope to see the Angolan’s, Botswana’s, Namibian’s, Zambian’s and Zimbabwean’s follow suit so that Southern Africa can become a powerhouse of African Wheelchair Basketball in both Men and Women.
A very big thank you to Mr Antonio Da Luz , President of the Angolan Olympic Committee and Mr Alfredo Ferreira Executive Director of the Lwini Foundation for extending WBSA the invitation to be part of this great occasion!