September 11, 2013 | Africa: South Africa

Special Olympics South Africa athletes help change mindsets

By Mmane Boikanyo

Jack Leboko at left with Phillip Mphahele, sports coordinator at Special Olympics South Africa.

Special Olympics South Africa athletes attended a 3 day referee’s football workshop in order to become qualified football referees with the assistance of Jack Leboko who is a Referee Instructor at SAFA. Initially Jack was very reluctant to do the workshop for free because he felt like it was not fair for him to sacrifice his weekend and provide a free service. After a lot of persuasion he agreed to do the workshop for the athletes. The experienced referee instructor was really impressed by how athletes took their time in assessing situations which according to him is a good quality every referee needs to have. He also learnt that teaching people with intellectual disability isn’t that difficult, one just needs to do things more practically and visually to make it easier for them to understand. During the workshop athletes shared their everyday challenges with Jack. He was really moved when athlete Arabela Lesotho said: “We know we are disabled, the only thing that we ask of society is to treat us like ordinary people.” He soon realised that he was part of the problem and is now determined to be part of the solution. Jack was so moved by the athletes that he vowed to dedicate his time and resources to help empower people with intellectual disability and now says his part of the Special Olympics South Africa family. Jack added that: “For the past 13 years I took so many things for granted but I now realise that God was preparing me for a new journey. I want to empower people with intellectual disability especially people living in rural areas who have less opportunities.”

About Mmane Boikanyo: Marketing and Communications Intern at Special Olympics South Africa.

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