Ghana defeated Nigeria by four runs to three runs in a wheelchair softball friendly match played at the National Stadium, Lagos, at the weekend. The friendly match held on Saturday was organized by the Nigeria Wheelchair Softball Association, an affiliate of the Paralympics Committee of Nigeria.
The five innings friendly match, in which the Nigerian team started off strongly, saw the Ghanaian team coming from three runs down to outclass their hosts.
At the end of the match, Samuel Babin and Bah Frimpong of Ghana won the best batter and Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards respectively, while Lateef Jimoh and Razaq Bankole of Nigeria won the best pitcher and best fielder awards respectively.
Speaking on the game, president, Ghana Wheelchair Softball Federation, Mr. Osei Mensah, expressed delight at the victory of his team, while also commending the improvement in the performance of the Nigerian side.
He described the friendly game as a training path for the Ghanaian team to prepare ahead of the World Cup Series coming up in the United States in August 2023, which Ghana is participating.
Mensah expressed hope that Africa Wheelchair Softball would one day have more countries participating at the international level, while urging other countries to embrace the sport.
He commended the Ghanaian government’s support to the sport and the entire team, saying that the government and relevant agencies have been supporting the development of the game.
On his part, Nigeria Wheelchair Softball Association President, Mr. Odior Sunday, said, while wheelchair softball first started in Nigeria in the whole of Africa, lack of support, sponsorship and funding have made distorted its growth.
According to Sunday, with over 20 million people living with disability in Nigeria, para-sports have received less or no attention from government, corporate and individual sponsorship, unlike other countries where the sport gets full support. He blamed inadequate equipment for the slow growth of the Nigerian team, saying that each wheelchair costs between $4,000 and $15,000.
The Ghanaian team’s wheelchairs are all of international standard, he said, lamenting that the Nigerian team had to source for wheelchairs from other sports, which affected their throws and batting in the friendly match.
“All over the world, especially the U.S. Paralympic Committee, most of their para-sports events are sponsored by churches, financial institutions and companies, among others. We want financial institutions, corporate organizations and individuals, as well as wealthy people to come and support this wheelchair softball sport,” he said.
Sunday believes that if well supported, para-sports will take the over 20 million people living with disability off the streets.
By Tony Bebli