Two Netcare employees with disabilities, who have been inspiring their colleagues through their sporting achievements, have set their sights on competing in the Paralympic Games.
Thirty-year-old paralympian Zandile Nhlapo, an employee at Netcare Mulbarton Hospital, is working towards the Paralympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro next year, after adding to her tally of sporting achievements at the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled, held earlier this year.
Paralympian Zandile Nhlapo, an employee of Netcare Mulbarton Hospital, says her colleagues are very supportive of her efforts to participate in the African Games and Paralympics. (From left:) Netcare Mulbarton Hospital employees Dalsie Madi, Zandile Nhlapho, Michael May and Lianne Clarke.
Competing in the women’s open category, Zandile broke the African record for javelin and the South African record for shot put at the national championships. “Even though I have broken athletics records before, setting both new national and African records gave me a great sense of achievement,” says Zandile, who lives with cerebral palsy.
In 2012, Zandile represented South Africa at the Paralympic Games in London. Her achievements at the last two national championships have fuelled Zandile’s ambition to once again compete in the Paralympics. Zandile now hopes to be selected for the Commonwealth Games, which would bring her a step closer to inclusion in the 2016 Paralympic team.
Douglas Hendrikz, an employee from Netcare’s head office who is based at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, is also looking further ahead to the 2020 Paralympics, to be held in Tokyo.
Douglas, a double amputee, and his rowing partner Nosipho Mbatha, who is currently in matric, won a silver medal in a 1 000-meter event at the South African Rowing Championships, in an impressive time of 4 minutes 56 seconds.
“Nosipho and I have only been training together for a few months and we are the only para-rowers in South Africa who have competed in our classification – the “TA” or “trunk and arms” disability category – so we won’t be ready for the next Paralympic Games,” Douglas explains. In order to qualify for the Paralympics, Douglas and Nosipho will have to compete in international events against other TA rowers.
Douglas says that he and his rowing partner, Nosipho, are putting in a lot of hard work towards qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics, but are still looking for sponsorship for the para-rowing program as funding remains a challenge.
Douglas is also a keen basketball player, and is currently competing in the SuperSport Wheelchair Basketball Series in Johannesburg on weekends. Rowing is his main sporting passion, however, and his wife, Erika, and 13-year-old son, Seth, have also taken up the sport.
“Rowing is a real sport, as opposed to a game. In basketball, for example, you can train as hard as you like but you still have to rely on other people for results. Rowing, on the other hand, is one of the toughest sports. I love it because it keeps me young,” Douglas enthuses.
Douglas has worked for Netcare since 2004, although this time includes a hiatus of nearly two years when he worked for the SA National Roads Agency Limited. He re-joined Netcare in 2012. “Netcare has been extremely supportive of my sports and proud of my achievements,” he says.
Likewise, Zandile says her colleagues at Netcare Mulbarton Hospital have been most encouraging. Since Zandile started competing in international events in 2001, she has continually pushed herself to take her athletic prowess to new levels. This has boosted her confidence, benefitting other spheres of her life.
Zandile was employed in Netcare Mulbarton Hospital’s billings department in 2013 and has since successfully completed a learnership offered by Netcare, through the group’s Sinako Project.
Netcare’s Sinako Project was launched in 2012 to assist unemployed young South Africans with disabilities to enter the mainstream economy. The project offers structured internships and learnerships in a number of fields to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to develop the technical skills that will afford them real opportunities in the workplace.
Notes to editor
Netcare’s commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workforce is continuing to create opportunities for people with disabilities. In 2014, the number of employees with disabilities within the Netcare group was 2.42%, or 540 of the 22 355 strong workforce. This represents a significant increase from the 73 or 0.38% employees with disabilities in 2007.
Netcare’s efforts to ensure that people with disabilities are given a fair chance to participate in South Africa’s mainstream economy have been widely recognised. The company received a number of awards in this regard through the years, the latest being the Diversity Award in the 2014 Oliver Empowerment Awards for Netcare’s commitment to creating an equal and diverse workforce.
Netcare was also recognised by the Director General of the Department of Labour in the 2014 Commission Employment Equity Report for its ‘hands-on’ approach in implementing an employment equity plan that includes strategies aimed at training and employing people with disabilities.
The Sinako Project is making a positive impact in the lives of people with disabilities, with 90% of learners and 60% of interns having secured employment with Netcare upon graduation last year.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Wilson, Meggan Saville
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