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19 September 2013

South Africa set to host 2013 Asia-Oceania Championship

(Johannesburg) South Africa is set to host the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) 2013 Asia-Oceania Championship from 16-23 November at the LC de Villiers Stadium, University of Pretoria. 


Asia-Oceania is one of the most competitive wheelchair rugby zones in the world, coupled with the fact that this tournament is an official qualifier for the 2014 World Championship.


Competing teams are set for an immense challenge. South Africa will compete against high-ranked teams from Australia (#2), Japan (#5) and New Zealand (#10).


Only the top team at the end of the tournament is guaranteed to qualify for Worlds, with any remaining spots to be determined by wild card.


The lack of competition and funding is a huge disadvantage for the South African team, and because of this, the national team has not competed internationally since 2009. 


“In order to continue to develop the sport, we need to take advantage of competition opportunities in order to increase our world ranking.  So when the opportunity came to host this world qualifier, we didn’t hesitate” states Clyde Holland, Chairman of SA Wheelchair Rugby.


In the lead up to the event, the local team members have personally funded training camps, and have managed to garner some support from local businesses. 


“Wheelchair rugby is the only full contact sport for the more severely disabled athlete. Hosting this event will help us create an awareness of our sport amongst severely disabled athletes from all communities, and competing in this event, may just help us realise our goal of participating in the 2016 Paralympic Games,” adds Victor Buitendag SA WCR administrator.


Competing teams are due to arrive from 16 November, with the opening ceremony and first games to take place on 20 November.


Players from the following clubs have been selected for the South African squad:

Tukkies (Okker Anker; Clyde Holland; Andrew Deere; Victor Buitendag; Yolande Oosthuysen; Kat Swanepoel; Bennie Erasmus; Bennie Dorfling);  Bloemfontein Mustangs (Jared McIntyre; Johnny Sutil); East London Bullfrogs (Koos Jacobs); East London Mandeville (Bongamandla Khumalo);  Cape Town Eagles (Enrico Avenant) and Troye Collins who used to play for Great Britain, now resident in Cape Town.


SA WCR has announced free entrance for all local spectators to come and support each match.  The full program of events and team information will be available on the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/iwrf.sawcr.co.za or follow team news on twitter @SAWCR.