The President of the Nigeria Wheelchair Softball Association Sunday Odior has made a passionate appeal to Nigerians, especially corporate organisations to lend support to Wheelchair Softball and other para events.
He made this call during the international wheelchair Softball friendly game between Nigeria and Ghana held at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos over the weekend.
According to him, while Nigeria was the first country to be introduced to the sport, lack of support had affected the progress of the game in the country.
He said, “This is unlike Ghana and other African countries who had government support and individual sponsors.”
He regreted that with over 20 million people with disability in Nigeria, para-sports had received little or no attention from government, corporate and individual sponsors.
He also expressed dismay that the absence of adequate equipment was a major hindrance to the Nigerian team as wheelchairs cost between $4,000 to $15,000.
He revealed that the wheelchairs used by the Ghanaian team were the standard required, while Nigeria’s fell short of standard which affected their throws and batting in the friendly match.
He assured that supporting para-sports will take the over 20 million people with disability off the streets if they are engaged in the sports.
“All over the world and countries like the US, UK, South Africa, most of their para sports events are sponsored by churches, financial institutions and companies among others.
“We want financial institutions, corporate organisations and individuals as well as affluent people to support wheelchair softball so that we can take these athletes off the streets and provide them relief,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ghana defeated Nigeria in the wheelchair softball friendly match by four runs to three.
The five innings friendly match which the Nigerian team started off strongly, saw the Ghanaian team coming from three runs down to emerge victorious on the home turf of the Nigerian team.
At the end of the match, Samuel Babin and Bah Frimpong of Ghana won the best batter and Most Valuable Players (MVP) respectively, while Lateef Jimoh and Razaq Bankole of Nigeria won the best pitcher and best fielder respectively.
The President, Ghana Wheelchair Softball Federation, Osei Mensah, expressed delight over their victory, while commending the improved performance of the Nigerian team.
He said the friendly game was a build-up for the Ghanaian team’s preparation for the World Cup Series coming up in the United States in August, 2023.
He expressed confidence that Africa Wheelchair Softball will attract more participation.