Special Olympics Athlete Shows Leadership as a Paralympics Coach

Ephraim experiencing sitting in a wheel chair surrounded by para-olympians. An athlete on either side of him is holding a basketball.

Ephraim Mohlakane is demonstrating the true power of inclusion by stepping up as a leader outside of the Special Olympics community. A Special Olympics South Africa athlete, Board member, and athlete leader, he became coach of a Paralympic basketball team as they were preparing for the Gauteng Paralympics basketball tournament.

This is not Ephraim’s first time coaching. Within the Special Olympics movement, he has worked his way from athlete to assistant coach to coach. Because this is his first time coaching a Paralympic team, Ephraim decided to first try playing basketball as his players do: in a wheelchair. Ephraim says that it was an amazing feeling to experience sitting on a wheelchair and playing basketball in one for the first time and that it reiterated his belief that it does not matter what kind of disability you have, what matters is the champion that lives inside of you. Learning more about how his players experience basketball has allowed him to be a better coach and to focus more on their abilities instead of their disabilities.

In addition to being a leader, coaching this team has also given Ephraim the opportunity to explain the difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics to those who need clarification. He explains, “Special Olympics is for individuals with intellectual disabilities, whereas Paralympics is generally for athletes with any disability, including physical, and only at an elite level.” Learn more about the differences between Special Olympics and the Paralympics here.