MAURICE OKAFOR as well writes that Nigeria is now set to feature both male and female football teams in the upcoming 2020 international soccer competition for the blind, as ‘Bina Foundation’, a Non-governmental Organization [NGO], based in Enugu which offers free training for people with special needs, with mandate from the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports development has groomed the ‘Star Eagles’ blind football club for men and the ‘Star Falcons’ blind football for women.
A four day training camp/games session which involved some other blind teams from Cameroon, Ghana and Cote Ivoire was concluded on Saturday, April 13, at Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, supervised by France based blind football Coach, Toussaint Akpweh, the IBSA Africa Representative and Special adviser[Development] for blind football.
The Nigerian female blind football team known as ‘Star Falcons’ beat a selected team from Cameroon, Ghana and Cote Ivoire by two goals to nothing, in a friendly match being part of events to mark the closing ceremony of the four day training/ camping.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the President/Founder of Bina Foundation, Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu, a Pharmacist, disclosed that the organization is not relenting in the onerous task to take the blind teams to laudable heights.
She stated,’ It is worthy of note that Bina Foundation is the only recognised organization in Nigeria, recognised for blind football at the national level by the federal ministry of Youth and sports development. We are affiliated to the Para- Athletics Federation of Nigeria and approved by the Paralympic committee Nigeria, as a center of excellence in blind football’.
‘We are working with the Paralympic committee to promote our Nigeria national blind football teams, the Star Eagles for men and the star Falcons for women to international recognition. We are very grateful to the Secretary General, Paralympic Committee Nigeria[PCN], Mr Suleiman Isah, who has been here with us for some days now for his unprecedented support’.
Lady Atuegwu also expressed her gratitude to Coach Tousssani Akpweh, for providing all the technical support and the management of Michelle laboratories limited Enugu, for providing them with the financial support.
According to her, blind football was inaugurated in her organisation in April 2017 with about 120 visually impaired men, as a means of giving a sense of belonging to the visually impaired. But in the spirit of gender equality, the foundation went further to inaugurate the women wing in August with about 30 women, stating some of the female players from Bina foundation were privileged to have participated in women blind football camp and games, held in February 2019, in Tokyo, Japan.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports development, Olushola Adesola, represented by the zonal Coordinator, South East, Mrs Jane Owoh, extolled the efforts of Bina Foundation in assembling National blind football teams for Nigeria. Likewise, the Secretary General Paralympic Committee Nigeria [PCN],Mr Suleiman Isah.
The Managing Director, Michelle Laboratories limited, Sir Chris Atuegwu, a Pharmacist too, who is also the Chairman, Board of Directors of Bina Foundation, was among the signatories that featured at the closing ceremony of the event. Others include Barr Emeka Etiaba, SAN, the Chairman Enugu Shippers Association, Mr Sunday Onyebuorah, representative of the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical province and Bishop of Enugu diocese[Anglican Communion],Most Rev Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma, some other officials from Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, etc.
The event was marked with decoration of all the players that featured in the tournament with medals. Exceptional players in the tournament were given additional medals while the Nigerian Team won a Golden cup, having defeated ‘Team Africa’.
The Authority checks revealed that Bina Foundation has established a national training/residential camp for blind football, at New haven axis of Enugu metropolis.