The canoeing community is rallying around a group of teenage paddlers who are part of the Soweto Canoeing and Recreation Club (SCARC) following an accident on the weekend.
The group of young SCARC paddlers had just returned from the Gauteng Sprint Championships and had finished packing their boats away at the clubhouse at Power Park when a drunk driver crashed into the group.
Under 16 paddler Sne Ntombela took the brunt of the collision that left her with a shattered hip and broken legs, while others in the group suffered lesser injuries.
She was rushed to Baragwanath hospital by Nkosi Mzolo and the SCARC coaching team, who also ensured that the driver was taken to the police station to be breathalysed and then charged.
Ntombela has undergone several operations this week to pin her broken hip and leg bones, and will be hospitalised for some time to come while she undergoes physiotherapy and starts her rehabilitation.
“The rest of the group had bumps and grazes and were really traumatised,” said Steve Jourdan, part of the driving force at ADreach behind the club. “FirstRand and the clubs major sponsor are kindly arranging trauma counselling for them.”
He added that there were real challenges ahead for Ntombela, mental, physical and financial.
“It is going to be a long road to recovery for Sne and at this stage we do not know what the long term effect of the injury might be,” said Jourdan.
“Sne and her family are going need loads of support in so many ways, extra tutoring for the time she is away from school, ongoing physio and loads of TLC,” he added.
The plight of Ntombela and her club mates has struck a chord within the broader paddling community and donations have started being sent to help with her recovery.
“There is a great deal of energy and enthusiasm in our paddling development community, and you will see at the Dusi this coming week just how the sport has seen these eager youngsters progress to elite racers,” said Canoeing South Africa president Kim Pople.
“What this does highlight is the extra challenges that these young boys and girls face as paddlers learning the sport and progressing through the ranks.
“Travel and transport is always a challenge, as is basic nutrition and equipment. It is testimony to their passion for the sport that so many youngsters that start learning in a development programme stay involved in the sport for many years,” she added.
“Sne is a very good example of that, and that is why the paddling community has rallied around her as she deals with her injuries.
“It will be an exciting day to see her back on the water doing what she loves,” she added.
Donations to her recovery fund can be sent to:
ABSA Bank Auckland Park
Acc No: 4066 461 278
Branch code: 632005