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December 27, 2012 | Africa: South Africa

A Chorus of Talented Boys

By University of Miami Volunteer

The Special Olympics floor hockey team from South Africa loves to sing. "When they sing, they sing in unity, they sing as a team. It inspires them, and gives them that little more energy to go onto the hockey field and play their best game," says Thembile Nokulung, their team manager. It wasn't that way when the team first assembled six months before the 2009 World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho. They stayed to themselves at first, but they quickly dropped those barriers and became a close team. They are a bunch of teen-age boys, just like any other team of boys who joke and play and bond with each other, Nokulung said. For many people in South Africa, it may seem surprising that this team of young men with intellectual disabilities is so ordinary. "People tend to talk to them differently, or treat them differently. They don't tend to realize they've just as normal as we are," she said. Intellectual disabilities don't diminish their "God-given talent, and that talent is to play sports."

About University of Miami Volunteer: More than a dozen University of Miami students volunteered as photographers and videographers at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.

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