The Special Eagles, Nigeria's Amputee Football team, risk missing the Amputee World Football for the fourth time. The lack of support from Nigerians and the government has left the team with no choice but to resort to crowd-funding online.
Nigeria's treatment of its Amputee Football Team is in stark contrast to how the country national football team is treated. While the Super Eagles enjoy the attention of the nation, the Nigerian Amputee Football team, known as the Special Eagles, is almost unknown. The team has missed three previous editions of the Amputee World Cup which they had qualified for.
African representatives however don't get the support they need, making preparation difficult. The Nigerian Amputee Football team has had to resort to scrounge for funds on social media and GoFundMe to get money for flights and basic needs such as food and proper equipment.
This is Africa spoke Fred Edoreh who expressed how difficult it was getting funding. "The Nigeria Amputee Football team is not under the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The players are not even asking for bonuses or allowance. That's not on their mind, they just want to represent the country in the World Cup and showcase what they have. Hopefully it will open more doors for them elsewhere." he explained.
Unfortunately, the response to the GoFundMe has been extremely poor. With a £52,000 target, only a paltry £205 has been raised. President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, donated $5,000 to the team which enabled them to resume training. The needs of the team cannot be met with this amount, and there is need for more funds to support the preparations for the tournament.
A message on the Go FundMe page reads "Support the Nigeria Amputee Football Team
They qualified to the Mexico 2018 Amputee World Cup. They have no funds to attend.
They need support for flight ticket, upkeep and other logistics.
They have missed previous Amputee World Cup opportunities after working so hard to qualify. Help them to realize their dream and give hope to many more challenged people".
The World Cup Amputee Football will kick off on the 24th of October, 2018 in Mexico. Currently, 46 countries play amputee football. The African countries include Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
Nigeria is in the same group with Russia, El Salvador and Brazil. Kenya is in the same group with USA, Turkey and Iran. Angola will face Haiti, Ukraine and Spain at the group stages. While Ghana will battle Argentina, Italy and France in the group stage.
"The players need very good equipment, their crutches keep breaking. There are medicals to cover for also," Fred told TIA. The 20 man team that's to go to Mexico includes five officials and 15 players. As of now, flight tickets cost $40,000 for the team, and this hasn't been settled secured.
The Special Eagles risk missing a fourth edition of the Amputee World Cup if they don't get the funding needed. It's high time Africans paid attention to special sports and support the various sporting disciplines.