The change Nigeria's Para-Sports needs

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 24/02/2018

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Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung

In all ramifications, Nigeria’s Sporting Men and Women classified as Physically-challenged athletes have continued to display high level of discipline, decorum and indeed performance in their various chosen career.

Right from 1992, when these honourable set of Individuals were admitted and recognised internationally at 1992 Barcelona summer Paralympic Games, their own version of Olympics participation, the special Athletes whose sporting credentials have never faded at any point in time, unlike their able-bodied counterparts, have kept shining wherever duty calls.

At several times, the Physically-challenged who have continuously toiled for commiserate recognition and rewards to wipe away the country’s Olympic shame and keep Nigeria on the world map at every given opportunity, have been intentionally neglected and disdained in many ways. Yet, they don’t in anyway deserve the kind of treatment they get in return.

As at the last time I checked, Nigeria’s Paralympians unlike their counterparts known as able-bodied athletes scoop medals at every other year far more than cumulative performance put up by Nigerians at the regular Olympic show for decades now.

In 2016 alone, the entire Nigerian athletes at Rio 2016 Olympics outing, far more than the Physically-challenged delegation at same 2016 Paralympic Games, managed to muscle only one bronze medal in football alone, of all the eight sports Nigeria took part in.

On the other hand, the country’s Paralympic athletes brought home nothing less than 12 medals of different colours and quality from Brazil in the same year.

Image result for nigerian paralympicsImage result for nigerian paralympics

That year, they finished 17th overall on the medal table. Their performance was the best medal wise among African nations at the 2016 Games. It was also Nigeria's best gold medal performance at a Paralympic Games since 1992, when the country made its debut. And so, their performances have kept getting better by the day or year and not in the downward slide as it is the case for ‘whole-bodied Nigerian athletes’.

Nigeria’s feat at 2012 London Olympics was a ‘shameful show’ to forget after no single medal was won by any athlete of Nigerian origin. That was not the case for the Nation’s Paralympians who didn’t disappoint at all. They made sure that at least 13 medals comprising of gold, silver and bronze were registered for their fatherland.

The likes of Yakubu Adesokan, Ivory Nwokorie, Esther Onyema, Joy Onalapo, Grace Anozie among others made the medals’ haul possible for the most populous country, barely six years ago.

In spite of these exploits, these set of athletes who adjudged ‘special’ rhetorically haven’t been treated fairly. In this 21st century, our Paralympians and by extension, other physically –challenged athletes still scramble for well-equipped places to train.

In virtually all federal government sporting facilities in parts of the country, it’s either there are no training apparatus for them or that the few available have become obsolete. No need thinking or talking about what is obtainable at the state or local government levels. You can only wonder how and why Nigerian Leaders prefer to punish fellow humans like them the way they have been doing and still do.

Only recently, President Muhammadu Buhari was invited to commission several projects completed by Nasarawa state government in the past six years of governance. Yes, Governor Tanko Al Makura taught it wise to consider building a resource or educational centre for the disabled persons which was among the projects inaugurated by Buhari but he didn’t install or procure a single sporting equipment for them.

Hardly will you hear or see of any meaningful developmental programme embarked upon by those in charge of governance at any given time for teaming handicap Person that go about making Nigeria proud, nationally and internationally.

The level of maturity and responsibility by these ‘special’ People was again demonstrated last Thursday when election into various Para-sporting federations was held. One after the other, they elected their leaders in seven separate federations in the most organised manner, worthy of emulation.

Like they had set the pace while competing for Nigeria, they equally led the way for others to follow in the administrative aspect (off the pitch activities) by exhibiting orderliness and high point of demeanour throughout the exercise. Newly appointed Director of FEAD, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mrs Tayo Oreweme who essentially monitored the electoral processes was spot on in ensuring transparent and very credible outcome, your sincerely who observed the entire procedure can attest confidently.

My only observation is that instead of allowing more of able-bodied persons to emerge as their leaders especially as Presidents interested Physically-challenged Personalities who have passion and qualifications to lead, should be given more preference, subsequently.

I hope buoyant (wealthy) individuals and corporate organisations won’t need to wait to support or even chart the course of advancement for these ‘real Persons’ of impeccable character, now and always.

Image result for nigerian paralympicsImage result for nigerian paralympics

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews

Posted on February, 24 2018

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