Youngsters are the key to Rio
The Sasol South African Senior Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team has its eyes set firmly on qualifying for the Paralympic Games next year.
This is clear if you look at the Sasol AmaWheelaBoys investment in youth over the past few months.
The team boasted several very young future basketball stars during the four Test Sasol All Star Series against France, which was taking place at the time of going to press at Mandeville, Johannesburg.
But their policy of developing youth was already noticeable during the recent 8-nation international tournament in Agadir, Morocco.
Head coach Franck Belen has remained committed to his four year development blueprint plan by choosing no fewer than five players from last year’s under 23 side that competed at the World under 23 Championships in Turkey.
He wants the Ama Wheela Boys to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and immediate results are not the most important thing in his world.
“We are sticking to our strategy of giving some of the youngsters in the national squad as much game time as possible. If we play with youngsters, mistakes will happen along the way, but it is the only way that they will learn as we look to build a solid team that will do SA proud during the Paralympic qualifiers via Africa next year,” said Belen.
“The experience of allowing the youngsters to play international senior level wheelchair basketball will pay off in time. Players like 16-year-old Steve Walgenbach and 18-year-old Thabane Tshenge were playing against guys much older.”