It's Day 1 at the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports (IWAS) Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville, UK, and like a typical English day, it drizzled and drizzled. Then, it drizzled a bit more and while it did, the dark cloud briskly dissipated, giving way for the warm heat of the sun to heal our cold skin.
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is proud to be supporting athletes from the Nigerian Paralympic Committee at the IWAS Junior Games. The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, a non-governmental, philanthropic organization focused on youth employment, families, education, healthcare and infrastructure development donated 2.6 million Naira to help send the Nigerian athletes to the event. The Foundation is the only private sector sponsor of future Nigerian Paralympians.
The mood around the stadium was unchanging unlike the weather and the excitement all around was visibly captivating. There was equally a palpable feeling of nervous anticipation as athletes from about 32 countries around the globe slowly disembarked from the bus, which brought them from Heathrow Airport. Our team, the Nigerian athletes from the Paralympic Committee, after much anticipation, soon arrived and were warmly received by contingents from Sir Emeka Offor Foundation.
Miles and miles away from the grandeur and glamour of the more publicized Commonwealth games underway in Glasgow, Scotland, the IWAS junior games commanded a much simpler notoriety in the public domain and the apparent clash of schedule between the two distinct events further affected publicity of the later. Nevertheless, the sports complex was much alive as teams hurried about to make final preparations for the games.
On Sunday, the 3rd of August, amid the abiding spirit of unity, friendship and sportsmanship among persons with disability, the IWAS Federation will draw the curtain back at exactly 4pm, to mark the official opening of the 10th International junior Games at the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.
The Under-23 World Junior Games offers the world’s best young athletes with disabilities the opportunity to compete in diverse games that used to be the exclusive reserve of able-bodied men and women.
Sir Offor has made relentless efforts in the fight to eradicate Polio from Nigeria and indeed the world by his generous donations of over $3 million USD to Rotary Polio Plus. Meanwhile, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has organized massive Polio Immunization campaigns.
The effects of Polio cannot be over-emphasized. Polio victims face the daily challenges that life presents and the challenges of living with disability.
“The fight against Polio starts with vaccines but the real challenge is in supporting those already affected by Polio," said Rosaline Agiamoh, Polio Ambassador Representative at an earlier ceremony. "We want to let Polio survivors know they are not alone or forgotten. We are here to help them through their daily struggles."
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation hopes Nigeria's athletes competing in the Under-23 World Junior Games serve as role models for those in developing countries like Nigeria to encourage those with disabilities to strive for more.
The 10th Under-23 World Junior Games continues through August 8th.