By Emmanuel Afonne
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has approved Para-Badminton to be featured at the forthcoming National Sports Festival scheduled for Edo State, later this month.
The National Coordinator of Nigeria Para-Badminton, Sam Ekeoma, who disclosed this on Friday, in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the approval was for it to feature as a demonstration sport at the festival.
Ekeoma said efforts were underway to ensure states embraced the sport, leading to the introduction of a national league.
“The Ministry of Sports has approved that para-badminton will be a demonstration sport at the National Sports Festival, in Edo State, and once the game is demonstrated at the National Sports Festival, other things will follow.
“And because there are about 15 medals to win in para-badminton, many states will embrace it.
“Para-Badminton has been accepted by Nigerians, the Federal Government and the Paralympic Committee of Nigeria (PCN) has included para-badminton as one of the games Nigeria will feature in at the Paralympics, if our athlete qualifies,” Ekeoma said.
According to him, a Nigerian, Bello Rafiu Oyebanji, from Kwara State, currently the African para-badminton champion, was already on the verge of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Ekeoma also said that Bello, the best player in Africa in Standing Lower for Men (SL4), qualified for the 2020 Brazil International Para-Badminton Championship and Spanish International Para-Badminton championships, but was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic as both countries cancelled the championships.
The coordinator further said that Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of the Abia State Governor had, in December 2020, promised to sponsor a para badminton championship in April 2021, as part of efforts to develop the sport in the country.
“The board of Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), led by its president, visited the wife of Abia State Governor in December during which she assured that she will be sponsoring an annual para-badminton championship beginning from April this year.
“She said it will be an annual event. She also donated a Space bus to para-badminton to ease the movement of players in the country, because we have been active since 2014,” Ekeoma added. (NAN)