11 countries converge on Enugu to fight for Africa’s sole blind football ticket
Beginning from today till Saturday, 11 African countries will trade tackles in Enugu for the sole ticket of representing the continent in the blind football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Already in Enugu to compete in the African qualifiers are Cameroon, Morocco, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mali, Niger and host Nigeria, while the rest of the teams were expected to arrive last night. Nigeria, which plays Cameroun in the opening game, is being represented by the Star Eagles.
Addressing a press conference in Enugu yesterday, Proprietor of Blind Football in Nigeria and President of Bina Foundation, Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu, said the country was hosting to win the sole ticket, stressing that in the absence of the male and female national football teams at the Olympics, there was need for the country to make appearance using the blind football.
Mrs. Atuegwu, who was flanked by her husband, Chris, Super Eagles’ Chief Coach, Gernot Rohr, officials of Ministry of Sports and Paralympics Federation of Nigeria, World Chairman of Blind Football, Ulrich Pfisterer, among others, said the players were poised to make the country proud.
She noted that the qualifiers held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, was also an effort to entrench blind football in the country, stressing that her intention was to ensure that every state of the federation had a blind football team.
“We will stop at nothing in moving the blind football forward. We have an abundant talent who are visually impaired but can do a whole lot with their legs and denying them the opportunity will not be fair. So my family has devoted part of their resources in promoting the welfare of people with special needs.
We have skill acquisition centre for them, we train them in judo, they cook, they wash, they do many things and since they can play football, we need to support them,” she stated.
Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr said his team was aware of the existence of the Star Eagles, stressing that his presence in Enugu was to boost the morale of the players to enable them to secure the only ticket meant for Africa.
He said the team needed the support of every Nigerian to make the right impressions, adding that already, the Atuegwu family had done much in instituting a blind football team in the country to the point of competing in African competitions.
World Chairman of Blind Football, Ulrich Pfisterer, stated that the qualifying competition was moved to Nigeria following the level of support the game had received from the Proprietors of Bina Foundation.
He disclosed that since 2010 in which blind sports were instituted by the Foundation in Nigeria, it had continued to grow as its players had competed in various competitions in Africa and beyond.
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