Eastern Province wheelchair basketball captain and wheelchair basketball women’s national team player Andiswa Malindi says sport has helped her come to terms with her disability.
She was part of the ECWB side which took part in the Vodacom National Women’s Championships which took place this week at the Raymond Mhlaba Indoor Sport Centre in Motherwell.
Originally from Mthatha but now living in East London, Malindi was shot by thieves during a house robbery in 2003, an incident which left her wheelchair-bound.
The 31-year-old said she had struggled to come to terms with her situation, but through sport she had been able to embrace her disability.
She was introduced to wheelchair basketball in 2011 by Ayanda Langa.
As an avid sport lover who was involved in many different sporting codes such as soccer, netball and volleyball, prior to her disability, Malindi did not struggle to get the hang of things and moved quickly up the wheelchair basketball ranks.
Soon after she joined the sport she was selected to be part of the EP wheelchair basketball team.
During that same year, her extraordinary performance in the provincial matches gained her a spot on the South African wheelchair basketball national team, which took part in the world wheelchair basketball championships in Mexico.
She has been a regular on both teams since then.
The enthusiastic player, who works as an admin clerk for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, has set her sights on helping the national team qualify for the paralympic wheelchair basketball in Germany next year.
“My priority now is to help the team qualify for us to go to the world championships,” she said.
“We have been working hard, busy preparing for the qualifying games which will held in KwaZulu-Natal in November to qualify to be part of the paralympics, which are taking place next year,” she said.
“I love basketball. Since I am disabled I need exercise to keep my body active and healthy, because when you just sit in a wheelchair you cannot do that.
“Basketball keeps me busy and it helps me relax.
“It’s hard for those people who encounter disability in their youth to deal with the situation, but when you involve yourself in sport, it helps you to forget about your disability.
“Sport keeps your mind busy because you think about training, the league, and upcoming games; it’s encouraging.”
The Walter Sisulu University marketing graduate said athletes such as Oscar Pistorius had been a huge motivation for her.
“I became disabled in 2003; there was a housebreaking at home in Mthatha and I was shot by the thieves, which resulted in me never walking again.
“It was hard at first to accept that I would never be able to walk again, but I saw many disabled people playing sport and achieving things. The person who motivated me the most was Oscar Pistorius.
“I saw that he was doing very well in athletics despite being disabled. That encouraged me a lot,” Malindi said.
“My biggest highlight throughout the six years that I have been involved in the sport was taking part in the in the world championships in 2011 in Mexico.
“Even though we never qualified for the paralympics, it was a great opportunity for me to learn, not only about the sport but about other cultures as well.
“The trip encouraged me to work harder and improve my game.
“Unlike wheelchair tennis where players get paid per game played, we gain nothing from basketball, but we do it because we love the game. That does not discourage us,” she said.
The player said her life goals now were different from those before her accident.
“The plan now is to study toward a bachelor of technology in marketing, but major in sport management. I would like to manage the EP team one day.”