By FRED EDOREH
In a bid to ensure their attendance of the Mexico 2018 Amputee World Cup, the Nigeria Amputee team has launched a jersey sales campaign to generate funds to foot their bill to the event scheduled for October 24 through November 5.
The initiative being jointly driven by Haggai Sports, a wholly Nigeria sports kit company, and the Nigeria Amputee Football Federation (NAFF), is an appeal for public support through purchase of the team jersey from which about 25% on each sales will go to the team towards raising about N30m needed to cover the flight ticket, visa fees and upkeep of 15 players and five officials to the event.
President of NAFF, Isah Suleiman, said the initiative became necessary following lack of response from government and corporate institutions after several months of appeals for funding support for the team to the World Cup.
“We are trying to do all we can to ensure that the National Amputee team makes it to the World Cup this time around. Due to lack of funds, they missed about three editions after they qualified. The boys will be demoralized if they are unable to attend for the forth time. It will make them feel like orphans in their country. We believe this should not happen,” Suleiman explained.
“We have been appealing to the authorities and various corporate bodies for help but yet to no avail, so we decided on this creative way, while still hoping and praying that the government and corporate institutions and good spirited individuals would eventually come our aid.
“The idea is simple. The company kitting the team for free, agreed to further remit 25% on the sale of each jersey or track suit bought to the Amputee team to help generate the needed fund. It is a win-win situation for the public as they get the good quality jersey for their use while, at the same time, supporting the amputee team to the World Cup.
“The price is N5,000 with N1,000 for delivery to any destination in Nigeria. We are therefore appealing to Nigerians to help us, as this is kind of our last resort to be able to attend the Amputee World Cup and expose our players to the various opportunities at the global place.
“The amputees and other physically challenged persons are Nigerians, our brothers and sisters, and they deserve our encouragement and support to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in our society. This will also inspire and give hope to many other physically challenged people that they have a chance through sports to live meaningfully, contribute to society and the uplifting of the name of their country. It should also be noted that there are career prospects for amputee footballers with a number of Nigerians already playing for clubs in England, Turkey and other places.”
After failing to attend the Argentina 2010, Russia 2012 and 2014 editions due to lack of funds and suspension over inability to pay international affiliation fee which the current board of the federation has taken steps to pay off, the World Amputee Football Federation cleared Nigeria to attend the Mexico 2018 edition, alongside Ghana, Kenya and Angola as Africa Zone representatives.
Nigeria is grouped in Pool E with Russia, Brazil and El Salvador while Ghana is in Pool B with France, Italy and Argentina. Kenya is grouped in F with the USA, Turkey and Iran, and Angola is in Pool D with Spain, Ukraine and Haiti. The games are to hold in Guadalajara, San Juan, Logos de Moreno and Chapala, the four major cities of the Mexican state of Jalisco.
The Nigeria Amputee squad to the event were selected during the National Amputee Football Championship held in Abuja in June. The selected players would be joined by other Nigerian amputees currently plying their trade in Europe.
Coach of the National team, Victor Nwenwe, says the team has a great prospect of coming tops at the event to topple defending champions, Russia, and bring honour to Nigeria.
“Our team is strong and good. The boys are very determined to demonstrate the indomitable Nigerian spirit to the world if given the opportunity. We have inculcated in them the assurance that they are equally as good as able persons. Our hope is that the exposure at the World Cup will raise awareness for those with disabilities in various communities across the nation, that there is room for them to live a good life if they can discover their talents and resolutely pursue the realisation of their dreams in any work of life, including sports. The Para Power Lifters have severally proved this at the Paralympics. We are determined to open another door of gainful engagement and national honour for physically challenged through amputee football.”
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