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Coronavirus: How Nigerian Sports Stars Are Providing Relief

4 May 2020 News Sport

The marauding coronavirus has affected every sector of life across the globe with entire sporting calendars thrust aside but some sports stars are filling the gap through provision of relief.

Not even the Olympic Games which has been patiently waited for four years was spared as football leagues across the world are gradually being cancelled while some others are battling to see out the campaign knowing the dire consequences of outright cancellations.

But while sports have been badly hit by this pandemic, it has, however, been uplifting seeing the contribution most sports people across the globe continue to make in the fight against the scourge.

In cash and/or kind, top sports personalities are standing up to be counted and Nigerian sports stars are not left out even though some say they ought to have done much more.

Big donors

Pep Guardiola who lost his mum during this pandemic, donated €1million to help provide medical equipment in the fight against coronavirus in Spain.

Neymar also made a donation of almost £800,000 to aid the battle against the disease.

Foxes goalkeeper Schmeichel made a £20,000 donation to Age UK as the charity launched the Covid Care initiative in Leicester.

Jose Mourinho, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo and tennis great Roger Federer, sporting icons and many more have all made varying personal donations to help fight COVID-19.

On a higher scale, players and coaches including the Super Eagles coach have accepted pay cuts of different percentages as sacrifices in this trying period.

Back home in Nigeria, though there has not been any reported wholesome donations directly to authorities in the fight against coronavirus, the focus of the country’s sports stars has been directed to the people in the form of reliefs and palliatives.

This preferred approach cannot be faulted as the sports stars are aiding the very people who dedicate a good part of their meagre resources to purchase expensive match-day tickets, make cable TV subscriptions, and much more to watch these stars do their thing.

Widow’s mite?

Former Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel, is one of the sporting personalities who have pitched in with donations to people in the neighbourhood he grew up in to become a global superstar.

Mikel, who owns a farm that includes poultry, distributed crates of fresh eggs to families in the area, saying on Instagram: “Helping people to survive in these difficult times, my team distributed 1800 crates of fresh eggs to some of the poorest areas in Nigeria close to the farm.”

“Let’s all try to help one another in this global crisis in any way possible.”

The former Chelsea star, who saw his contract controversially terminated in Turkey, recently distributed bags of rice and beans as well as noodles to people in need in Jos, Plateau state.

The former Super Eagles captain made a post on his Instagram story with pictures of the items and a banner of himself wearing the Nigerian jersey. “Together we can all help. Today in Jos. Where I grew up”.

Another Super Eagles player, Moses Simon, made a donation of N.5 million to randomly selected residents of Kaduna, Nigeria’s Northern city where he grew up.

He told ESPN: “I was getting messages on social media with people telling me about how they were suffering there.

“And I have lived there, my parents are there so I know how hard it can be for the most needy people. My original plan was to give N5000 each to 400 people. I ended up giving more.

“I called them in Kaduna and they told me that what they received from the government was three small packs of noodles. And I saw a video of a woman picking rice from the ground.

“I felt it in my heart. Most of these people live from hand to mouth on their daily sales. If they can’t go out to do business [due to the lockdown], how would they eat?”

Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, donated several bags of rice to those in Kano where cases of COVID-19 rising very fast.

Other players like Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City, and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo, along with Samuel Kalu, John Ogu, Henry Onyekuru, and Ogenyi Onazi donated monies and food items

Former Nigeria goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, has also joined the train.

He is raising funds that would help him buy vital supplies for motherless children and babies in Onitsha and Umunna in south Onitsha.

The former Super Eagles star is auctioning his jersey to achieve this noble course.

He said: I’m auctioning my Nigeria shirt from the World Cup qualifier against Zambia. This was also my final game in a Super Eagles shirt!!”

At the last check, Ikeme has already raised over £800 (around N400,000).

Though football stars are at the forefront, those in other sports like table tennis, basketball and athletics are doing their bit albeit anonymously.

Nigeria currently has over 2500 confirmed cases of the dreaded virus with over 80 deaths.

Nigeria confirmed an additional 170 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total confirmed infections so far in the country to 2,558.

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