(By Barbara Maregele, Groundup.org.za)

The new year has kicked off to an exciting start for Special Olympics participant Asisipho Sosibo from Durban…

In November, GroundUp reported that Sosibo, 15, was one of 50 athletes selected to represent South Africa at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March.

But her hopes of competing abroad were dampened after her family and school battled for months to get her a passport. It was determined that she needed a valid birth certificate.

This week, Home Affairs confirmed that it was able to assist Sosibo just in time for the games.

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Team coach Nana Mazibuko says, “Before we got the news, [Asisipho’s] status updates on social media were very sad. But when I called to give her the news, she immediately changed her status. She’s very happy.” Mazibuko says once Sosibo gets her passport, the team will finalise plans for the trip.

Home Affairs spokesperson, David Hlabane, says, “We’re delighted Asisipho received the help she required from Home Affairs ahead of the [games].” Hlabane urged parents and guardians to register children as soon as possible at local Home Affairs offices.

The Special Olympics will be held from 14 to 21 March in Abu Dhabi, with 174 countries participating. South Africa will send a delegation of 98 people including coaches, media and team leaders.

Sosibo will be competing in the soccer category for teen girls with seven teammates from Ningizimu Special School in Montclair. The team is expected to depart to Johannesburg on 8 March.

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