Dream comes true

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New legs mean young boy can now play soccer

“I thought he was just dehydrated, only to find out it was more than that”

BEAUTIFUL GAME: Young Ubuko Mpotulo can finally run and kick a soccer ball after he received new sports prosthetic legs last week. He had a bit of a kick-about with Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle at the event where Paralympic medal winner Ernst van Dyk handed over the legs Picture: QHAMANI LINGANI
BEAUTIFUL GAME: Young Ubuko Mpotulo can finally run and kick a soccer ball after he received new sports prosthetic legs last week. He had a bit of a kick-about with Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle at the event where Paralympic medal winner Ernst van Dyk handed over the legs Picture: QHAMANI LINGANI

IT WAS an emotional yet joyful day when eight-year-old Ubuko Mpotulo’s dream of playing soccer came true with a donation of prosthetic legs.

The prostheses, sponsored by Rand Mutual, were handed over to Ubuko by Paralympic medal winner Ernst van Dyk at Frere Hospital last week.

The new limbs, one pair fitted with a knee for everyday wear and another sporting blades for running and playing, will replace a pair of old-fashioned prosthetic legs that have no feet or movable parts.

Ubuko was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis in 2011 which destroyed his blood vessels and led to gangrene.

His mother, Nokuthula Mpotulo, said Ubuko had fallen ill and became weak, and she had taken him to the doctor.

“I thought he was just dehydrated, only to find out it was more than that,” she said.

Van Dyk said at the handing over event that most of the time people took things for granted.

He said that his parents had been told that they had the most disabled child and should put him in an institution and just forget about him.

“I was fortunate because my parents did the opposite and took me home to love and care for me,” Van Dyk said.

“Youth need positive role models. Whether their role models come from abled or disabled communities, it doesn’t matter.

“There are so many young people who have the potential to be stars, they only need an opportunity.”

Marissa Nel from Marissa Nel and Associates came to know about Ubuko’s challenge through Frere Hospital acting manager Joy Scholl.

“I finally met Ubuko and those of you who have had the privilege to meet him will understand that he only has to look at you once and you are done, the mischievous smile and determination in his eyes caught my heartstrings,” Nel said.

Her journey with Ubuko continued with taking measurements, then plastic casts, test socket fitting and adjustments with his physiotherapist at Frere.

“Ubuko will grow, so we will need to change his socket, probably in the next six to eight months, when he will require alignment adjustments, and replacement of some of his prosthetic parts,” she said.

“Just to give you an idea, from today until Ubuko is 18, we will have to refit and change his prosthetic sockets at least 14 to 16 times.”

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle gave Ubuko a “medal of courage”.

He encouraged the private sector to work closely with the government because a lot could be achieved through such a partnership.

“Today has just been overwhelming. What we have witnessed is what heroes are made of. I am moved,” Masualle said. “I can say it is not the last time we have seen or heard of this young boy.”

Ubuko’s mother was over the moon with excitement.

“He is such an active young boy and it was difficult for him to do things himself, but now he will be able to move around.

“I want to thank everyone involved. Thank you so much.”

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