Worried by the dearth of competitions in the nation’s sports and the need to meet their needs, some physically challenged sportsmen and women have turned bus conductors to survive economic hardship.
A Para-athlete, Mary Obasi, said on Monday in Lagos that the athletes were left with no option than that to meet their needs and sustain their families.
Obasi in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) appealed to government at all levels to urgently find a host to stage the National Sports Festival (NSF).
She said the athletes were tired of the sports minister’s promise to host the sports festival and now wanted him announce a date for the 19th biennial fiesta.
NAN reports that Sports Minister Solomon Dalung had last week at a function in Abuja announced that the sports festival would hold after the completion of sports federations’ election.
Obasi said that Para-athletes had now resorted to odd ways of life in order to survive the economic hardship.
“We are living from hand to mouth because there is no competition to sustain us. Lack of competition has put us on the edge.
“There is no state in the federation that can boast of keeping athletes in camp for five years without any competition in sight and that is why many athletes are now doing menial jobs.
“Most of us who are physically challenged are roaming about the stadium begging for alms when we are pushed to the wall.
“Many of the physically challenged have now resorted to working as bus conductors. People can check this as one of us is presently on a bus plying the Stadium-Ikeja route,’’ she said.
Obasi said that after the last sports festival in Lagos, tagged “EKO 2012’’, Para-athletes in the country had been battling to survive economic hardship.
“We have not had it good since the last sports festival. Many of the states have thrown their Para-athletes out of the stadium and even the stadium we are talking about is not maintained.
“We beg the sports minister to please address this problem of “No Show’’; since he came to power nothing has happened in the sports arena even a small competition.
“This is the first time we will be experiencing such a hard time in sports; remember that the Nigerian economy is in recession and now no competition. It’s really hard for us.
“Maybe if the minister cannot help, the higher authorities should intervene on our behalf to save our souls,’’ she said. (NAN)