21 August 2013
An initiative which began with the formation of a Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) judo team has grown into a successful community upliftment programme, with coach Sondisa Magajana recently taking two young hearing-impaired contestants to the Deaflympics in Bulgaria.
In 2006, quality assurance employee Magajana trained as a judo coach and started the VWSA judo team. Starting with only a few VWSA members, the team, comprising novices and experienced men and women, grew and began participating at provincial and national level.
The team now boasts 35 members, four of whom took top honours when they
represented Eastern Province at the South African National Open Judo Championships in July, winning a gold medal for under-73kg senior men, a gold for under-66kg senior men, a silver for under-90kg senior men, and a bronze for under-81kg senior men.
Dedication and passion
After starting the team at VWSA, Magajana
realised that the dedication and
passion of judo was something he wanted to impart to keen learners who were often side-lined in the sport.
In 2009 he started the Judo Institute for People with Special Needs, a move
which earned him the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the SA Sports Awards last
year for his involvement in the community.
The initiative has been encouraged by VWSA. Magajana has been allowed time
off work to train students and accompany them to various training and championship
events, where they have often brought home top honours.
Breaking new ground
“I’ve always wanted to break new ground. My plan was to include all disabilities,
because in sport these are people that have been marginalised. I had a strong belief
that I could make a difference in their lives,” Magajana said in a statement on
The schools which are benefiting from his training include Khanyisa School for
(KwaDwesi), Reuben Birin School for the Deaf (Missionvale), Lonwabo
School for the physically challenged (Missionvale), Cape Recife (Summerstrand),
Northern Lights (Cotswold) and outside Nelson Mandela Bay, Efata School for Blind
and Deaf (Mthatha).
After taking pupils to participate in the Nedbank National Championships for the
Physically Disabled, presented by the South African Sports Association for Physically
Disabled (SASAPD), earlier this year, Magajana was asked to accompany South
Africa’s deaf team as its coach at the Deaflympics in Bulgaria, which ended in early
‘A great honour’
“I have put a lot of work into coaching physically and hearing impaired pupils, so
being given this opportunity was a great honour,” he said on his return.
Two of his hearing impaired pupils from Uitenhage, 17-year-old Priscilla Lawrence
and Siviwe Nkwinti, also 17, accompanied Magajana to Sophia, Bulgaria. Both are
ranked number one
in their respective weight categories on the provincial judo log for
Lawrence returned with a sixth place in the women under-63kg division, while
Nkwinti fought bravely despite being injured during training. He was knocked out of
the competition after the first round.
“The pupils I train are as good as any able-bodied contestants. They take part in
able-bodied competitions and excel,” said Magajana, who has already set his sights
on taking a “team to be reckoned with” to the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey.
“During the Deaflympics, we trained with French, Iranian and Argentinian
contestants, so there was a great platform for skills transfer among the different
Magajana will head to The Netherlands in December with the national deaf judo
team for an international training camp ahead of the 2014 European Open Judo
Next on the cards for the VWSA team is a
trip for National Championship under-
73kg gold medallist Daludumo Makalima (of the Material Recovery division) to Abu
Dhabi in November as part of the South African judo team.
Article source: http://www.southafrica.info/news/sport/judo-vwsa-210813.htm