*Ministry to begin work on making deaf sports mandatory at National Sports Festivals and Youth Games
The Hon. Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, today, Monday October 9th, 2023, welcomed back Nigeria’s Men’s Deaf football team, also called the “Deaf Eagles”, in Abuja, after their participation at the 4th edition of the World Deaf Football Championships that took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Minister hailed the team for their outing as they made Nigeria proud. Nigeria was a first time participant at the Championships, making its debut after three previous editions of the Games.
“I congratulate you all for representing Nigeria at the World Championships, as we made our first appearance since 2008 when this tournament started,” the Minister said. “In three previous editions, Nigeria was not represented, but for the first time ever, the Nigerian flag was hoisted at the Games courtesy of your hard work. This deserves that we appreciate and commend you.”
Senator Enoh added that sports remains the greatest tool for social inclusion, with its ability to engender diversity, equity and inclusion in the society.
“There is no greater demonstration of the social inclusiveness of sports than having a deaf team travel to represent Nigeria,” he noted.
“It is in sports that you find that there is no discrimination whatsoever. By finishing 11th at the world championships, this team has placed Nigeria on the world map. As a country, on the behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we celebrate your uncommon love and sacrifice for our nation.”
To foster the development of deaf sports, the Minister stated that he will work with relevant administrators to ensure deaf sports gets an assured place in the National Sports Festival. He added that his administration will also open the door for the addition of deaf sports to the list of events at the National Youth Games.
The President of the Deaf Sports Federation, Alhaji Sulieman Saka Dagbo thanked the Minister for receiving the team, as it was the first time of being accorded such honour in spite of their past achievements at the continental and global level.
“We did not expect that a Minister would show up to receive us honourably, that has never happened before,” he said. “With this honour, we will ensure that we perform even better in subsequent competitions.”
Dagbo made a special request for the minister to provide accommodation, and allowances for the team, which was expeditely approved by the Minister.
Coach of the team Kamaldeen Banjo noted that in spite of the team travelling with 13 players and two coaches, they gave their best shot in Kuala Lumpur. He thanked the Minister for the support provided while the team was away on international soil.
“We want to appreciate the Honourable Minister for giving us the opportunity to participate in this tournament, else Nigeria would not have made the position it got.”
Nigeria ranked 11th out of 25 countries at the Games, after surpassing the group stages. The deaf Eagles exited the Championship gallantly after losing 2-0 to Ukraine in the Round of 16.