The Nigeria amputee football team, Special Eagles, currently in Angola for the Africa Amputee Football Cup of Nations, have called for urgent fatherly intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari towards alleviating their poor condition at the tournament.
The Special Eagles landed in Benguela, venue of the competition, on Wednesday night to return to the competition after nine years of absence due to lack of funds.
With only solidarity support from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) which was not sufficient to foot their bill, the 15-man team of 10 players, two coaches, one back room staff and two officials travelled on the strength of flight tickets provided on credit by their travel agent.
Speaking on arrival in Angola, President of the federation, Alhaji Suleiman Isah, said while they are still expecting the Federal Ministry of Sports to approve some support for them, it has become necessary to appeal for the intervention of the President Buhari on the plight of the national amputee football team.
“It is tough for us but we needed to make this trip to keep hope alive for the amputees who have decided to counter their physical disability by engaging respectably in sports.
“They have been absent from the Africa Nations Cup for nine years because there was no funding support. It will devastate the boys badly if they missed this edition again,” observed the Isah.
“Unfortunately, the only support we got was from the NFF and it is not enough to cover the cost of flight tickets even as we dropped some players. We bought tickets on credit just as we also procured jerseys, tracksuits, boots and other equipment on credit. The worst part now is that we don’t even have a dime to give to the players as allowances both at the competition and on return,” the amputee federation president stressed.
The Nigeria amputee football team will open their Nations Cup campaign against Liberia today, Friday, October 4. Their subsequent fixtures are against Cameroon, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and host Angola on October 8.
With experience from the Mexico 2018 World Cup, the Special Eagles are rated amongst the strongest team in Africa to challenge for the trophy against Angola who are current world champions.