To mark International Day of Disabled Persons, the FAME Foundation organized a two-day inclusion event for women in Para Powerlifting. In this interview with Arise Africa News, the Power-lifting Federation President Chi-Emeka Charles Ezenwanne lauds the efforts of NGOs like the FATE Foundation. He also speaks about other issues concerning Power-lifting in Nigeria.
What is the para-lifting scene like in Nigeria?
With regards to para lifting, the Nigerian team is the best in the world and I say it wherever I go. If you search online, we are the best, but we have a lot of issues and challenges, and I don’t want it to bring our ranking down, when you encourage someone, they will go the extra mile for you. But when there is no motivation, the spirit will be watered down and performance will drop. As of today China is coming to a close along with Egypt to claim the championship, which we don’t like, so we are praying for help. As the government has said they cannot carry the weight alone. So we need public aid to come to our rescue, we have public aid coming from Dubai in February, on the 26th of February, that’s for the world championship ranking, qualifying for the next Olympics, so we need to be them. This para lifting situation is Nigeria in summary. We are disabled by basically everything with our government saying they don’t have money to sponsor even disabled people’s sports and regardless they are still lifting iron and hoping some Nigerians will make donations. The government doesn’t have money, so we are using this medium to appeal to corporate bodies in Nigeria to come to our rescue, we don’t want our ranking to drop, and we don’t want to miss the Olympics. It is only para lifting that has been bringing Gold medals to the country from championship games. So we are also using this medium to thank our new minister who has been up and doing. So far so good. He has been the best we have seen. He was supposed to be here, but He is being represented here too. As the minister God will give him the wisdom to pilot the affairs of sports in Nigeria, He has the wisdom and he knows.
With games like this, what is the position in Nigeria?
I always want things to make my lifters happy. This includes bringing more competitions for them and getting them into more championships locally. In Africa, they are number one, and in the world, they are number one. So anything to keep them flying I will do it by the Grace of God. And next year we have another game, along with another game for them to excel, coming up at Abuja on the 6th of next December.
Are these games championship qualifiers or are they to keep the players fit?
These games are here just to keep fit. Today is the day for people with disabilities around the world. So the FAME Foundation in partnership with the French embassy is here to celebrate my athletes.
When you said you wanted private sectors to come in, in what capacity do you want them to help?
Some of these athletes have gone through many championships and need replacements to come up, and that would mean bringing younger ones. Which will involve a lot hunt to take them out of the streets. Then to championships and then to trails to get the absolute best to present to the nation. To be in the National team.