Sunday May 13 2018

Para-badminton athlete aiming for the top

 Jhazirah Namukose is a 20-year-old para-badminton athlete

Jhazirah Namukose is a 20-year-old para-badminton athlete 

By GEORGE KATONGOLE

What is the hardest thing about this sport?
Sometimes, the shuttlecock flies right in front of me and I want to hit it back but I miss the target.
What are some of the joys of playing?
When I meet people with physical disabilities, it helps me accept myself. I was able to put on my first pair of shoes when I began playing for the national team. The shoes were a donation from coach Mark (Sekyondwa). Previously, I was moving across the court barefooted.
Couldn’t you afford to buy shoes?
I have always had the mentality that I cannot wear shoes, so I never bought any. However, we have been told to change our negative attitudes. At first, wearing the shoes was uncomfortable, but now I am used to them. Also, para-badminton is an expensive sport so some of the equipment costs a lot of money.
How did you lose the function of your limbs?
When I was born, I could walk normally, but a polio vaccine was administered the wrong way and my right leg had to be operated on in 2002.

Did you feel discriminated against?
My condition always made me feel small. I did not like to see people or let them see me. I was a loner and I never liked sharing with anyone.
What was your turning point?
Meeting coach Mark at Sharing Youth Centre Nsambya gave me a new lease on life. He encouraged me to join sports and now, I want to live my life positively. I started playing para-badminton in January 2018 ahead of the Uganda International and African championship. I am in the Standing Lower (SL) 4 category.

What else do you do?
I dropped out of school in Senior Four, so I do not have a formal job. I am a volunteer with BRAC Uganda in Kisaasi.
What is your dream in this sport?
If I can play as well as Bello (Nigeria’s Bello Oyebanji, the top player in Africa), then all the pain in my past can be history.
Who do you live with?
I live in my parents’ home in Kisaasi. They returned to the village and left me with my two siblings. I have been providing for my siblings since 2010.

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