Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Coach of deaf football team slams NSC

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The chief coach of Nigeria’s Deaf Football team, Kamilu Banjo has decried the National Sports Commission’s (NSC) inability to sponsor the team to the 21st edition of Deaflympics, which is scheduled to hold from September 5-15 in Taipei Taiwan.

Many called but few chosen

Of the 42 athletes who were camped at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, Oyo State and were supposed to take part in both football and athletics, only 12 were finally selected, thereby dashing the hopes of the football team, which defeated Ghana in August last year to qualify for the tournament, the equivalent of the Olympics for the hearing impaired.

A stab in the back

Banjo was displeased with the situation where the players who actually booked a ticket for the games were dropped after preparing hard for the event and being given the impression that they would make the trip:

“After spending close to three weeks in camp, they said they have no money for football but it was football that qualified the other events. We are in Group B together with Spain, Germany and Iran. We were supposed to have our first match on Friday against Spain. It is a big slap on Nigeria, not on me because this is the first time in history we are qualifying for this event, even though this is the 21st edition of Deaflympics.

“Look at how long it has taken us; this is a big setback and our football team is representing West and Central Africa. Many of the players were crying in the camp yesterday because they couldn’t believe they would not be making the trip.”

Going from pillar to post

The Secretary General of the Nigeria Deaf Sports Federation, Idemudia Lawrence said the National Sports Commission (NSC) could only sponsor six athletes while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also sponsored six.

Speaking to before the contingent took off on Monday, he said, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service gave us track suits and face caps and T-shirts but we could not get support for footballers. We sought the support of various organisations, including the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola. Even in camp, we were managing funds approved for six athletes because we had initial approval for just six. The NSC gave marketers the job to raise funds for us but now, they can’t be seen.”

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the NSC, Tony Ohaneri said he could not comment on the issue as he has been away, due to bereavement and is not aware of what is going on.