By Sunday Agbo, Abakaliki
Over fifty physically challenged athletes after their over 20day training at Pa Ngele Oruta township stadium, Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital have protested their exclusion, due to logistics in the ongoing southeast Para-Athletic Games.
The group, after spending their resources and engaged in rigorous three weeks training, Orient Weekend learnt, were expected to have departed for Enugu on Wednesday evening for the ongoing South East Para Athletic Game that was flagged off on Thursday morning.
According to the state chairman, Joint National Association of the Persons With Disability, JONAPWD, Ebonyi state chapter, Mr. Franklin Chieme Ojukwu, who lamented their exclusion even after they were invited by the state government and underwent three weeks hectic training , regretted they were dumped at the stadium on flimsy excuse that no logistic was provided by the government.
“We have been training rigorously for three weeks with no food or sachet water even when we are happy that the competition will be an opportunity to showcase our ability in disability but funny enough, the director of sports dumped us here with our hope dashed on air. “We supposed to leave Ebonyi for Enugu state on Wednesday but, till Thursday afternoon, different stories are what we have received. We were happy
when we received invitation to represent the state but it ended up with regret and waste of our hard-earned income and time”, he explained. Comrade Ojukwu appealed to Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi, to make disabled persons an integral part of sports activities since many of them were sports enthusiasts who sought an opportunity like the Southeast Para Athletic to showcase their talents. “I appeal to the state governor to always include the disable ones whenever there is sports competition, even as we beg that he address the recent case which we were abandoned after
putting us into hectic training for three weeks without support. One of the javelin athletes, Comrade Nwokolo Ifeanyi regretted that sports leaders took their conditions of disability for advantage, revealing that even when they had spent the little they had with hope to make the state proud, unfortunately ,their coach and other concern persons left them in pains. The team alleged that sports ministry officials might have planned to hire athletes from Enugu who would represent the state after using them for training and go behind to reap from their efforts. Another athlete, Mr. Awoke
Okia, frowned at the action of the sports officials and urged the state governor to address it so as not to dent his good image before disabled persons and sister states. Speaking with the state commissioner for sports, Hon. Charles Akpuenika, said it was the sole responsibility of the chief coach to ensure the team movement was successful. However, when our reporter contacted the team coach, Mr. Chris Akukwe on phone, he said that he was in Enugu but not in a position to determine if the athletes would participate