Community Affairs Officer, Coca Cola Nigeria, Emeka Mba, (wearing black suit) and National Director, Special Olympics Nigeria, Mrs Folashade Bolumole, flanked by the Special Olympics Nigeria athletes
Special Olympics Nigeria team to the Africa Unity Cup in South Africa emerged runners up of the Consolatory Category after missing out of qualifying for the 2013 World Cup in Brazil.
Nigeria won three of the six matches played at the African qualifying round in South Africa at the weekend.
Speaking at the presentation of the Nigeria team to the media in Lagos yesterday, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Nigeria, Mr. Victor Osibodu praised the athletes for their heroic feats despite not qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil.
“We are proud of our players because they fought gallantly despite playing against bigger players in South Africa. The experience and exposure is going to stay long in their memories.
“I want to firstly appreciate all our board members for their support and also, our appreciation goes to South African Airways and Coca Cola for sponsoring the team,” observed Osibodu.
National Director of SONigeria, Mrs. Folashade Bolumole who accompanied the team on the trip added that: “The players were very thrilled and felt honoured representing Nigeria. The exposure gave us the opportunity to know more about the Unity Games. I’m very grateful to our sponsors and like I always say, don’t be tired supporting us because we will always come back.”
Head Coach of the Nigerian team, Richard Enefiok, told THISDAY that that working with the special athletes and their partners has really helped him to update his knowledge about the game.
“Our players struggled to adjust to the cold weather in South Africa because most of them were travelling outside the country for the first time but the experience cannot be quantified.”
Nigeria playing in Group B, defeated Mauritius 5-0 in their first game before losing 1-0 each to Tanzania and Kenya but bounced back stronger with a 4-0 bashing of Namibia thereby finishing third and missing the 2013 World Cup in Brazil.
The team however defeated Bostwana 1-0 before losing 1-2 to Uganda in the Consolation mini Tournament organised for the team who couldn’t qualify for the Unity World Cup.
Host South Africa came first while Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire emerged second and third respective to pick Africa’s three slots to the Rio 2013 World Unity Cup.