Sarafadeen Olalekan, the captain of the amputee soccer team “Special Eagles”, has asked the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, to guarantee payment of the team’s allowances.
Olalekan told Newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos that many of the team members faced many financial challenges due to unpaid assignments.
“Other federations have received their allocations, but for the Special Eagles, we have yet to receive ours before the close of the pandemic.
“Up to this moment there has been nothing and it has been one more year, now that we went to Angola and are second, life has not been easy for most of the amputee footballers.
“Most of the players are away from their homes due to the problem of money owed to their owners and their sources of income were interrupted by the pandemic and the protest,” he said.
According to Olalekan, one of the team members who had just been nationalized as a Nigerian was part of the country’s success story, “but he currently sleeps under the bridge.
“We have a Ghanaian who had just been nationalized in Nigeria, he played for us until we reached the final, but it cost him a lot of life.
“They asked him to move out of the National Stadium where he resides, so he had to start his life under the bridge.
“During the pandemic, we did not receive any palliative and most of the players have their own family that they are taking care of. I hope that our request is answered and that our allowances are paid, ”said the amputee player.
Austin Ugwu, the Assistant Captain, urged the Federal Government to place members of the amputee team on monthly assignments.
He added that the assignment would go a long way to help players take care of themselves and stay fit to perform for the country.
“I would appreciate if the government could consider us and place us on monthly allowances.
“Since the last championship we went to, we have not received anything from the government.
“This has affected many players, we are supposed to always be fit but with the current situation we are only working to survive,” he said.
Ugwu further said that some players had been unable to do anything due to allowances still to be paid.
“I have a tricycle that is running, so I can take care of myself a bit, but for some others they don’t have what they are doing.
“Some of the players feed off the melee, they have nothing to do. We are not nice bodies. “
The interim technical director of the National Amputee Soccer Federation (NAFF), Pius Asaba, said the federation has not yet received funding from the ministry.
He pleaded with the ministry to make sure the federation gets the funds to be able to pay the players.
“They have promised us that they will pay us and I am aware that the federation is also doing everything possible to ensure that they are paid.
“The pandemic and the protest have paralyzed all our activities, we are supposed to go to a competition in Poland but it has been postponed, so for now we don’t know exactly what will happen.
“The government has not paid the federation any money for now, including the player’s allowance.
“That is why we call on the government to pay for all our activities and the laurel we brought to the country,” he said.
Asaba also said that the players were due from the last championship that was played in Angola.
“The federation is helpless now and the amputee team is doing well in Africa, but the federation is not well looked after,” he said.
NAN reports that Angola hosted the fifth edition of the African Amputee Football Federation (FAAF), a tournament organized by CANAF. Seven nations participated in the tournament held from October 1-12, 2019 in Luanda, where Nigeria won silver.