Athlete Leardership Programme


The Special Olympics Africa Unity Cup 2012 was deemed to be a success judging by the outmost diligence in preparing the Athletes, Coaches and Officials. What was most interesting with this one is the fact that we were to experience our own Special Olympics Athletes take charge by officiating in the games. The official training started in February 2012 with a maximum of 10 Athletes accommodated, as we speak we still have athletes who are still training. It was three day training with both practical’s and rules.

Through the Athlete Leadership Programme (ALP`s) Special Olympics South Africa had five Athletes who were trained by South African Football Association to officiate in football games. Respectively they are Jimmy Nhlanhla Masina, Samuel Phasha, Philani Ngwane, Simphiwe Gidigidi and Sipho Radebe. Among the Athletes Jimmy managed to pass the exam by 70% whilst the other qualifying athlete Arnold Ngqulunga passed by 72% but did not make it to the event.

Rex Molepo, who is a SAFA referee and match commissioner at the unity cup said that, the overall organization was good and very entertaining. He added and said, “It was good to have athletes with intellectual disabilities officiate in games, it was my first and I hope to see more of it”. Acknowledging the games he said, “Games were better than tournaments I attended before, and this is what we call development”.

An athlete Official trainer and examiner Samuel Maduwa said that “I am happy about giving this opportunity to Special Olympics athlete to officiate. He added that if more training can be provided a lot more can be achieved, we can see athlete with disabilities reach new heights.

Samuel Phasha- Athlete Official who had his first time experience in officiating and is such a prestigious event and is still in training thought the organization of the tournament was well in order. He also said that there was no mistake in the event although punctuality was a challenge. Appreciating the chance they were given, he said, “I did not see this one coming”. There was delay in start of matches because of teams still warming up, and at times it affected the whole match programme of the day he added. He continued to say it was a perfect opportunity for us as athletes to officiate, through assistance we can take over as athletes at our local games.

Jimmy Masina thought the games were fun and is promising to even officiate in his community where he lives even with the main stream football games. He said, “I enjoyed the events since generally I am someone who likes football. He added by saying he wants to upgrade his officiating skill to the next level. Jimmy also thanked the mentors they had chosen to help with the understanding of the induction and processes. Each athlete had to have a mentor to help with the reading, explaining and answering of questions throughout the training.

 “Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt”

Wanga Manyala


Thank you times

We gotta appreciate!

When i first came into the Special Olympics South Africa House, then based in Sandton at the Twin Towers, i had no idea what Special Olympics was all about. Of cause when i was told by the Department of Sports Arts and Culture Gauteng to attend my practical’s with them i had told myself that i was going to adventure into a new paradigm. Yes i was in a new world and i had told myself that here am to learn a very new way of life.


On my arrival i was welcomed by my Mentor Mr. Phillip Mphahlele who has proved to be a great deal in my life with his experience and the strong will to coach me throughout. Special Olympics as an entity has taught me a lot about life in general from; discipline, respect, acknowledgement and appreciation of another being.


Special Olympics is a home to the most underrated people in the world and after finding that out i also felt the need to come in with the little that i have and had so that i could make a difference in the world.


“By helping one, you are helping many, our circle eventually is gathered”.


After my arrival i was introduced to many disciplines that the organization revolves around; from the Athlete Leadership Program, Lower Ability Events, Healthy Athletes, and Young Athletes Training etc. My greatest  highlights of the year 2012 was when we hosted the Floor Hockey Provincial event, Figure Skating Nationals, PGA Golf in Kensington, the Special Olympics Africa Unity Cup and the Lower Ability in Alexandra.


Throughout these campaigns and events i have managed to meet a great number of Special Olympics individuals who are all in harmony fighting the same cause which is inclusion of people with Intellectual Disabilities, this includes directors, management, coordinators, volunteers and Special Olympics Athletes including their parents and guardians


One thing that made me so proud to be an intern at the Special Olympics is that it gave me an opportunity to see the world in a different manner, changed the way i view people and i have come to the understanding that people out there are different but all capable

 Lastly at the theory classes Special Olympics has given me a chance to Educate my peers and lectures about people with intellectual disabilities in sports, this is because none us was aware and the fact that it has a year round  functioning calendar has helped me to experience all their disciplines and be able to share.


The Stuff at the office alone has been great and very supportive throughout my learning. Very grateful as I stand; within my practical’s I have had the chance to converse and exchange opinions with a large number of African and international people.


“We think too much of disable people with their disabilities more than they themselves think they are disable”


I say this in light of the awareness campaigns and presentations I’ve been too, I have seen normal people with open minds when I go to events and have been pulled down my high horse seeing the capabilities they have of which at first I had underestimated. I was really stunned when I learnt that two of my colleagues who are Jimmy and Thabo are people with intellectual disabilities, their quality of work at the office will leave you riveting.


Wanga Manyala