The Nigeria Para-Powerlifting Federation (NPPF) has called for more support from philanthropists and corporate bodies to empower physically challenged athletes.
The NPPF Technical Director, Feyisetan Are, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that more physically challenged person had indicated interest in the sport but needed to be supported.
“This year alone, no fewer than 12 physically challenged persons have indicated interest in powerlifting and they are already training with us.
“We are all clamouring for the physically challenged people not to engage in street begging to survive and some of them have seen participation in sports as a means of livelihood.
“All we need to do as a people is to support them with provision of sports kits and other training materials,’’ Are said.
The technical director said that some of the upcoming athletes that were certified eligible for the sport benefited from the kits donated by Nigeria’s ex-international, Obafemi Matins, through the Obafemi Matins Foundation in May.
“We try as much as we can to encourage persons living with disability to test their ability in other areas of which sports is one.
“But wheelchairs and crutches are fundamental to ease their movements to training venues.
“Some came for screening and we assessed their capability in various weight categories and classified them appropriately and we also encouraged them to come for training.
“So far, many of them showed commitment and are doing marvellously well in training.
“As part of encouragement, we shortlisted their names based on commitment during distribution of kits exercise sponsored by Obafemi Martins.
“These made it easy for them to acquire standard wheelchairs and crutches,’’ he said.
According to him, powerlifiting has assisted in no small way to make some physically challenged persons national heroes and heroines.
“We have a slogan that says, `there is ability in disability’ our athletes have brought honour to this nation in World Championships and Paralympic Games, the records are there.
“Our performances in these global competitions has remained a challenge to those who really want to be useful to themselves, families and nation at large have registered with us today,’’ he added.
Are, however, tasked well meaning Nigerians and corporate bodies to assist the body financially and in area kits for training.
“Most of these athletes are from very poor background, most of them can’t even feed themselves.
“They sometimes come to stadium for training without transports fare, after training you see some of them begging for money to go back home.
“We are appealing to philanthropic Nigerians and corporate bodies to assist us with finance and other welfare materials for these athletes.
“This will encourage others out there to leave street begging and be useful to themselves and the nation,’’ he said.