SOSA Athlete leader, Rofhiwa Manwadu, a Champion of Inclusion
Rofhiwa Manwadu, a 39-year-old multi-medalist winning Special Olympics athlete from Vhembe, is a well-traveled man whose track record surely attests that hard work pays off. A resident of Manini village near Thohoyandou, Rofhiwa was born with Cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his speech. “I was a slow learner because of my condition, and as such I couldn’t attend a normal school,” he said. “I attended Fulufhelo Special School, where he studied arts. My interest in sporting activities grew, especially in athletics.” He added that he had caretakers and educators who motivated him.
At the age of 17, he had qualified to participate in the Special Olympic Games and he has never looked back since then. So far, he has visited, among other nations, Namibia, Germany, and the United State of America, China, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sweden, Greece, Zimbabwe, Italy, and Thailand to represent South Africa. “To date, he has won 60 medals (silver and gold), and many trophies, and I am not planning to retire soon,” he said with a smile. He wanted to tell all people who still looked down on people living with disabilities to “be courageous and never underestimate us’’.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Rofhiwa Manwadu used to give back to his community by hosting a top-of-class Sport’s tournament with four different sporting codes consisting of Bocce, Table tennis, Athletics, Soccer. In 2016 Rofhiwa broke the record where both athletes and partners from Special Schools and centers kicked off the event with a “TORCH” from the Vhembe District Municipality head offices to Thohoyandou stadium. Both athletes and partners took part in six sporting codes which included: Soccer, Athletics, Bocce, Basketball, Cricket, and table tennis.
In support of the pilot project launched between SOSA and the Shudufhadzo Foundation, SOSA athlete leader for the Vhembe district, Rofhiwa Manwadu came on board the project at Fulufhelo Special School. Rofhiwa is a former learner from Fulufhelo and has thrown himself behind this project. On the 25th of March 2021, Rofhiwa, accompanied by the Honorable Mayor Councillor Tshivhango, Dr. Rambuda from Vhuthuhawe Medical Centre, and staff members from Thulamela Municipality, distributed 605 Sanitary pads, 515 Toothbrushes, and 515 tubes of toothpaste to the school.
Dr. Rambuda, the main sponsor, commended Rofhiwa for this amazing initiative and announced that he would like to form a partnership with him and help to support his initiatives and the athletes of Special Olympics South Africa in Vhembe. Rofhiwa is currently working on launching his own foundation, as he wants to continue to help support and empower more athletes in the Limpopo Province. We commend Rofhiwa for his amazing work of leading to include. Rofhiwa is a true example of what it means to be a champion of inclusion.