By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Para-soccer players in Akwa Ibom State have expressed worries over what they described as “neglect” of their plights by the state government, saying it has constituted impediment to their careers as well as bred poverty among them.
Speaking to sports journalists in Uyo, the state capital on Tuesday, the Chairperson of Akwa Ibom State Para-Soccer Association (AKISPA), Mrs. Comfort Essien listed the challenges facing the association to include lack of training pitch for the Para-soccer players, mobility, welfare and vehicle for easy movement of the Para-soccer players.
Essien said that the association has been over a year now without a Secretary and Coach following the retirement of the immediate past Secretary and Coach.
According to her, “Things are not in order. If the association has been formed by the Ministry, I think the Ministry needs to pay attention to it.
“I was told that in four years, I should form a team that is made of Akwa Ibom players. How will I do that? Right now, I don’t have a coach,” she lamented.
The association’s chairperson noted that Para-Soccer as medal winning game, is capable of engaging thousands of physically challenged persons in the state positively.
She posited that giving necessary support to the Para-Soccer Sports would offer opportunities to a number of paraplegics to be trained to become relevant to themselves and others.
According to her, the State Para-Soccer team has over the years featured at the National Sports Festival and other competitions within and outside the country.
“Para-Soccer has remained a game of hope for the physically challenged persons and lucrative if well funded”, Mrs Essien added.
She called on Akwa Ibom State Government, Ministry of Youth and Sports and good spirited individuals to come to the aid of the association.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Comrade Emmanuel Akpan has pledged the readiness of the association to promote the activities of Para-Soccer in the state to stardom.
It would be recalled that the Akwa Ibom State Para-Soccer Association was inaugurated by the state government alongside other 29 Sports Associations last year, by the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Sir Monday Ebong Uko.
The idea according to government, is to rejuvenate and re-position all sports associations in the state for effective participation at both national and international sporting competitions and win laurels to the state irrespective of sports as well as discover budding stars and nurture them for future needs.