“It takes men and women of nobility to appreciate that there is indeed ability in disability…" – these were the words with which Rt. Hon. (Engr.) Victor Ochei, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly and Grand Patron of the Nigerian Wheelchair Basketball Federation (NWBF), sealed his vow to ensure that Nigeria makes her Wheelchair Basketball debut at the 2016 Paralympic games to be held in Rio, Brazil.
Hon. Ochei who is celebrated as an exemplary statesman and Sports enthusiast, made this pledge at the just concluded finals of the 2nd Victor Ochei International Wheelchair Basketball competition, where Lagos State beat defending champions, Delta State, in a masterful display of skill, discipline and good gamesmanship from both teams.
Commenting on the reason for his continued commitment to sponsoring the annual event, he attributed his resolve to the need to give physically challenged athletes a sense of belonging and a platform to showcase their potential to a society which continuously overlooks their significance.
He also plans to expand the popularity of the sport by organizing more awareness clinics, with the full support of the NWBF and putting forward a bigger and better third edition of the tournament.
It will be recalled that Nigeria has already participated in some Wheelchair Basketball competitions organized in Africa; including the 2007 All African Games in Algeria, the U-23 African Championship in South Africa in 2008, and the Senior Nation’s Cup in Morocco in 2012.
However, having Nigeria represented at the Rio Paralympics will serve to promote the popularity of the sport as well as secure worldwide accolades for the country in an area more recently dominated by countries like Canada, Australia and Brazil.
Currently ranked third in Africa despite challenges in funding and recognition, the Nigerian team eagerly awaits the opportunity to prove to Africa and the world that they are unmatched in spirit, skill and their unshakeable resolve for victory.
Assuredly, the Delta State Legislator does not stand alone in his dream to see Nigeria elevated through wheelchair basketball, as his selfless commitment has earned the support of the leadership of the NWBF, the Paralympics Committee and other sports devotees nationwide.