UWC Cricket Star Set Sights on Blind Proteas

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Sports Reporter

Allanzo DONN-LEA Mapoe survived a scare of losing his sight in Grade 3. When he was in Grade 6, a sister at the special school he attended predicted that he would only be able to gather information until the end of Grade 7.

Today, he is a second-year BA student at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and a star cricket player.

Mapoe was born with cortical blindness, a condition that occurs when one loses their visual perception due to damage to specific brain areas. But Mapoe defied the odds to complete high school with good results and got into university. He excelled in sports and set his sights on representing his country on the world stage.

“From what the sisters told me in Grade 6, I’m overachieving. It is not supposed to be possible to do what I do, but I’m doing it. I’m truly grateful for what I’m achieving, and I’m hungry to achieve even more,” he said.

Mapoe was dealt a terrible blow when he missed the selection for the national blind cricket team – a sport he played from a young age – for the next Blind Cricket World Cup in Pakistan later this year.

“The afternoon I found out, I was sad and angry because I thought I would get the invitation to the national team. I left everything on the playing field during those past days. But my mother texted me to say I mustn’t be worried, as this time around, it might not be my time. God’s time is right, and He is preparing me for something big,” he said.

Mapoe vowed to work even harder to earn the national call-up in the future.

This is evident in his improved performance for the Boland provincial team at this year’s Blind Cricket South Africa (BCSA) T20 National Tournament, held in Potchefstroom in April.

“I had a wonderful tournament, taking five wickets and ending fourth overall. It is hard to take wickets in blind cricket because the bat is straight down on the pitch, and they mostly play swift shots. Getting so many wickets was pretty odd. But yeah, there is improvement for me. I would love to be on the Proteas team one day and don the green and gold. It has been a dream of mine since I was young, and I will wear the South African badge on my chest,” he said.

Born in Oudtshoorn and raised in Worcester, Mapoe’s love affair with the sport started when he watched cricket on television with his aunt and uncles.

When his friends introduced him to blind cricket at school, he loved it.

“I remember the first time I made zero runs. They bowled me out. Then I made eight, 10, 11, and then 21 runs, which became my highest score for quite some time. But then I got the knack of it. I love this game, and I have the desire to win. It gives me hope in life. That’s what blind cricket does for me.”

The all-rounder is the captain of Worcester Victorians in club cricket and has been grateful for the support UWC has offered him toward his studies.

“The university is supportive of students with disabilities. The Disability Unit is always available to help, and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. It’s so nice to know some people will support you through and through and walk the journey with you.”

On the sporting front, he believes the university could do more to support all athletes with disabilities. “They should just give us the necessary facilities that we can use. For me, in cricket, it’s just the nets to practice. I think the university is still learning when it comes to disability sports.”

The UWC Sports Council is reviving efforts to promote para-sports on campus. Plans are afoot to ensure that athletes with disabilities like Mapoe will be given the necessary resources to reach their sporting goals.

INSIDE EDUCATION

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