The nine-man team, led by Fabian Muller, is made up of ParaVolley players from the Western Cape and Limpopo who will be travelling to Rwanda on Sunday to take part in the five-day championships at the National Paralympic Committee Gymnasium and Amahoro Indoor Stadium.
This is the first time that physically impaired South Africans will represent their country against international teams in a ParaVolley competition.
Fabian, 40, is a former gangster who lost his leg following a motorcycle accident last year.
He grew up in Lentegeur and spent most of his childhood years as a member of the Hard Livings gang.
He was eventually made the local leader.
“I was heavily into gangsterism and drugs and became a gangster at 13. It was a hectic fast-paced life, but I was a clever gangster and never spent time in prison,” he tells the Daily Voice.
However, 14 years ago, Fabian’s eldest son Fabio was born and he decided he wanted to be a father and a husband and so he gave up his life of crime.
“There are two ways out: either you die, or raise a family. I don’t know how it works in other gangs, but basically you get beaten up to get into the gang and so you get beaten up to leave the gang,” he reveals.
He then went to work as an electrician to provide for his family, which had grown to include two daughters.
In January last year, he was hit by a vehicle on Highlands Drive and his leg was amputated as a result of the accident.
At first, Fabian explains, he struggled to climb ladders and do his work, but he pushed through.
“My son was born without one arm and so I think God was preparing me for this. One day I was waiting for my prosthetic leg to be fitted when I saw the poster for paravolley,” he recalls.
“I love volleyball and I played for Western Province and made the SA Juniors team at school, so I decided to try out sitting paravolley.”
Fabian plays the setter position and two weeks ago was made the team manager.
The team will compete against some of Africa’s best teams next week.
The top two men’s and women’s teams will qualify for the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships to be held in July 2018 in the Netherlands.