Invictus Games: Nigeria gets Africa’s first entry at Prince Harry’s games for wounded veterans
Abuja, Nigeria(CNN) Nigeria will take part in the biennial, paralympic-style Invictus Games established by Britain’s Prince Harry for military personnel injured in the line of duty, the foundation said on Thursday.
Nigeria will become Africa’s first entrant to the Games and will join 21 other nations in a series of adaptive sports in the German city of Dusseldorf, which is expecting over 500 participants for the sixth edition of the week-long sporting event.
The West African nation joined the Invictus community of nations last year along with Colombia and Israel.
All three countries will make their debuts at this year’s athletic competition.
Team Nigeria captain Corporal Effiom Antigha told CNN he was looking forward to attending the September games.
“I feel very fortunate because until now I didn’t think I could get involved in any of these sporting activities.”
“The Invictus Foundation has helped me develop physically and mentally,” added Antigha, 30, who said he was initially depressed after an injury.
“Before I came to Invictus I had never heard of sitting volleyball. When I saw that I could participate in this sport without straining my limbs, I felt very good. I’ve been in a great mood ever since,” he said.
“I can now go to the gym for upper body training. I haven’t done that since my injury.”
Antigha, who fractured his kneecap at a novel football match organized by an army unit in 2019, said he looked forward to meeting other injured soldiers from other countries.
“I want to hear their stories and compete with them, too,” he told CNN.
Nigerian contingent team manager Bobby Ojeh told CNN the country had been allocated 10 competition spots and selection of team members had begun.
“The 10 will compete in different sports,” said Ojeh, who also explained that the Nigerian team hoped to compete in categories like wheelchair basketball, sit volleyball, powerlifting and rowing.
“We have professional coaches who train our men in these sports,” he said, adding that participants will attend the games with their friends and family.
Participants will be selected from a pool of 35 injured soldiers supported by the charity.
Launched in 2014, the Invictus Games, which support the rehabilitation of injured soldiers, were previously hosted by the UK, US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
Winners and runners-up in sports categories at the Invictus Games receive medals, but organizers say the event isn’t about winning medals, it’s about helping veterans on their road to recovery.
Invictus Games Foundation executive director Dominic Reid OBE said in a press statement that he was “delighted” that Nigeria has been invited to take part in the Games.
“The opportunities we offer, including in Nigeria, and the support from senior military stakeholders was so strong that we felt the team there was ready and well prepared to compete in Invictus Games,” he added.
Nigerian Defense Staff chief Gen. Lucky Irabor said Invictus’ sports programs for recovery are having an impact on injured and ill military personnel in the country.
“Since joining the Invictus Community of Nations, we have seen the impact exercise for recovery is already having on those injured or ill on duty and those around them.”