Ghana wheelchair tennis players criticizes government after attack in Nigeria

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Ghana wheelchair tennis players criticised the government for lack of support after they were attacked by gunmen in Nigeria.

Ghana’s wheelchair tennis team have criticised the country’s government, stating that they have not received adequate support following an attack by gunmen in Nigeria while on international duty last month.

According to a statement from the Ghana sports ministry, the team were attacked near Sagamu, Ogun State in the early hours of February 13.

They were travelling by bus after the 2023 BNP Paribas International Tennis Federation World Team Cup Africa Qualifiers, held in Abuja. Three members of the team sustaining injuries in the attack.

According to report they were unable to afford a hotel in Abuja on the evening of February 12, the team opted to travel overnight on their way back to Lagos when they were confronted by armed robbers at approximately 2:30AM local time.

Player Bernard Yawson, who was sat in the front seat, was impacted by the shattered windscreen as it was hit by the bullets, and the team were fortunate that the quick-thinking driver accelerated away from the gunmen and out of danger.

The team has urged authorities to ensure appropriate provisions for sportspeople with disabilities, saying they should not have been in a perilous position in the first place, and did not have enough funds to get home safely afterwards.

“In Ghana we need to set our priorities straight,” Philip Plange, assistant head coach and deputy secretary for the Ghana Accra Tennis Association, told the media.

“Following this attack, we’re not going to travel by bus to a different country again unless by air or if the event is taking place locally.

“We request to put [the team] on the payroll as a form of compensation, because they’re not working and earning money apart from playing wheelchair tennis.”

According to wheelchair tennis coordinator Henry Larbi, who personally contributed finances to support the team, the Senior Executive Director of ITF Tours and Players Pathway Jackie Nesbitt has written in to the Ghana Tennis Federation to encourage safeguarding of players and provision of safe modes of transport when travelling to events.

“It was an unfortunate incident and they could have lost their lives,” Larbi told reporters. “The main issue is lack of funding for Para Sports in Ghana.

“We hope the Government of Ghana will pay more attention to Ghana Wheelchair Tennis, although some media houses in Ghana have raised [money] for the team, which was used for medical attention.”


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