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Triumph over Adversity: The Inspiring Journey of Disabled Athletes

While it has been a very rare thing to find people with disabilities (PWDs) engage and compete in recognised competitions in Africa, in Rwanda it seems to be a come to end story.

Sendarasi Boris, Mfitumukiza Patrick and Nzamwita Emmanuel, Rwandan players of wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball respectively, have defied all the odds to excel in the world of the convincingly growing adaptive sports in Rwanda. Boris, Patrick and Emmanuel, each with a unique story, shared their experiences and aspirations and shading light on the incredible journey they have gone through.

Boris, Bugesera’s wheelchair basketball team player, is a young man with an indomitable spirit, discovered his passion his passion for wheelchair basketball two years ago. To him, it is not merely a thing to just pass time but a career that has become a lifeline. All this being possible through sheer determination, Boris envisions himself as a future editor, having studied Multimedia at University, showcasing the power of his dreams tracing way back in 2014 during his high school at Gatagara, Nyanza (Southern Province, Rwanda), to multimedia expertise, exemplifies his unwavering pursuit of excellence.

Sendarasi, whose dream is to push his career in Australia, claims that living with disability doesn not literally pose a life with no vision and success.

“Being disabled does not mean that your life has no vision or purpose, it depends on the people around you. When you have people who are motivational, you can never feel lonely, being lonely would at a point bring depression which can never be the case when you are surrounded with such people”, says Boris.

Mfitumukiza Patrick, a Kigali resident and Boris’s teammate, views sports as an essential facet of daily life, considering it a cherished hobby that also generates income.

Having recently completed his high school education in 2023, with focus in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, he now aspires to delve into Psychology and Philosophy at University.

Patrick, who plays football too, started engaging actively in wheelchair basketball in 2022 during his Senior five in high school.

Mfitumukiza Patrick, on the right, who doubles as a player in both wheelchair basketball and football

“I want to continue my studies with taking Psychology and Philosophy at University and I don’t think this would stop me from playing the sport because it tends to be one of my best sources of income”, says Patrick.

Nzamwita Emmanuel who also emerges as a beacon of versatility, seamlessly transitioning between wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball for Musanze on both teams respectively, also traces his academic journey in high school at Gatagara, Nyanza, specializing in Maths, Chemistry, and Biology.

Emmanuel whose heart lies in sitting volleyball mostly attributes his unwavering dedication and motivation on the court to the supportive community of his teammates, from where he finds unparalleled joy.

Nzamwita, (Jersey No. 2) in one of Musanze sitting volleyball team’s games

“I started playing sitting volleyball in 2016 and wheelchair basketball in 2021 and like sitting volleyball of the two. Nobody knows where their talent lies, one has to try out on all grounds to find where they are best”, says Nzamwita.

All the three athletes emphasize a common message; “disability should never define one’s potential”. They credit their achievements to the unwavering support of their families, teammates, and mentors. They assert to have no place of discouragement in their lives and call the Rwandan government to invest in improved wheelchairs and extend assistance to those facing financial hardships and facilitation.

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