The Amputee football team of Nigeria, The Special Eagles, have resolved to seeking funds from the public to enable them debut at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico.
The tournament begins in three weeks time, but despite being prepared, the team lacks proper funding to make its first bow in the competition.
Special Eagles and Arsenal Amputee FC player, Michael Ishiguzo took the initiative to set up an online appeal medium on GoFundMe to raise funds.
The platform hopes to raise almost US$68,000 to help fund the Eagles participation.
In an interview with BBC Sports, the London-based player said he felt the pains of the players and that they have no support whatsoever.
“These guys have worked so hard and several times they have missed going to the World Cup because it appears the government, the corporate community don’t care about them,”
“They contribute their own funds to keep the sport, the team and their dream alive while also working hard to fend for themselves and their families” Ishiguzo said.
“Going to the World Cup is a big deal for them because it will bring them to the global place where there are opportunities like I have.” he added.
The team hopes to generate funds to cover flight tickets and general logistics during their stay.
Ishiguzo plays for the Arsenal Amputee Football Club in England. They compete in the EAFA league.
He was a former player of the old Stationary Stores of Lagos, before suffering a career ending injury which had his right leg amputated in 1997.
Captain of the team Emmanuel Ibeawuchi, says he is inspired by Ishiguzo and hopes to fulfil his dream of playing in the World Cup.
Emmanuel also suffered an accident that had his right leg amputated aged only 22.
“We are not giving up on our dreams. We know that sports provides hope for physically challenged people,” Ibeawuchi told BBC Sport.
“Our Powerlifters have proved this at the Paralympics. We also want to show our stuff to the world.
“We believe we are among the best in the world but we have been denied the opportunity of showcasing ourselves for long.
“This time around, we are praying that with public support we can be at the World Cup.” he added.
Amputee football is a sport for disabled people. It is played with seven players on each team (six outfield players and one goalkeeper).
Outfield players have lower extremity amputations, and goalkeepers have an upper extremity amputation.
Outfield players use forearm crutches, and play without their prosthesis.
Nigeria qualified for the last three World Cups but could not participate due to lack of funds
The tournament is played every four years and the 2014 edition was won by Russia, defeating Angola 3:1 in the final.
This year’s World Cup kicks off on the 24th of October in Mexico.