The call for the inclusion of the physically-challenged in sports was the talking point at the maiden edition of the Adedayo Benjamins-Laniyi (ABL) Football Tournament which was concluded in Abuja during the weekend among 48 teams from the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Mrs Adedayo Benjamins-Laniyi, the convener of the competition said Nigerians irrespective of their status should be treated equally as far as sports is concerned.
“The Adedayo Benjamins-Laniyi (ABL) Football Tournament is all about unity through sportsmanship. What you see us doing is a synergy that you must be intentional about when you are embracing inclusion. We must understand that person with disabilities are persons with capacities and can do what able-bodied are doing.
All they (the physically-challenged) need is that channel of connection which is what is referred to as inclusion. Inclusion is not something that is imported to Nigeria by a foreign NGO to Africa or Nigeria and certainly not Abuja. We are the capital of inclusion for Africa and we are demonstrating that with this message of football tournament in the Federal Capital Territory as unity through sportsmanship. We celebrate persons with disabilities as champions.
Coach Timothy Simon of the National Deaf Football Team and Coach Umar Gimba of the FCT Para Soccer team while commending the organisers of the tournament called on government and corporate organisations to support the inclusion of the physically-challenged in in sports.
“We are not new to football. It is in our blood. We have participated in many competitions. We should not be written off because of our disabilities, we are all human. We can do what the able-bodied are doing and even better. When you see my players, you won’t even know that they are deaf. We want to thank the organisers of this tournament and we believe that they will continue to create room for us to participate in competition like this,” Coach Simon said.