As South Africa U23 head to the Men’s U23 World Championships to represent the Africa Zone, we speak to an influential player in their team, Steven Walgenbach, to find out a little more about him and the team’s hopes for the tournament.

Name: Steven Walgenbach

Age: 19

Country: South Africa

Hometown: Pretoria

Classification: 3.0

Club: AGA Lions

Steven said,Representing South Africa at the U23 World Championships is a huge honour. The opportunity is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you are willing to put in the hours.”

To prepare for the U23 World Championships, the team has had numerous camps organised by Wheelchair Basketball South Africa (WBSA) and funded by their sponsor Sasol.

When asked what competing in international junior tournaments means to him, he added “In my opinion, taking part at the tournament at a young age gives you a competitive advantage over the older participants. Being exposed at an international level from a young age gives you a clearer vision of where you need to be skill wise. Your first international tournament is always a bit overwhelming. I believe that the sooner a young player gets the overwhelming sensation out of the way, the better. It will contribute to their overall experience, and nothing beats the experience.”

The teams also has high hopes despite the fierce competition, Steven explains, “Our primary objective is to place high enough to open up another slot for the Africa zone. We are also aiming to do better than any previous Africa zone teams before us.

“We will be playing against eleven of the best teams in the world, so to pick a favourite is tough. However, looking at the Paralympics in Rio, I favour the USA – their programme is doing very well at the moment.”

Lastly we asked what Steven was most looking forward to, he replied, “The thing I look forward to the most is competing at a high level. Win or lose, I love gaining experience on the court because I know it will contribute to me becoming a better player. I also can’t wait to put my hours of training to use as we play the best of the best.”

Meet the rest of the South Africa U23 Team