By Femi Adefioye, Lagos
Some ex-internationals have expressed concern over the health of former Super Eagles star, Pius Ikedia, and wished him speedy recovery.Those who spoke to BLACKFACE in separate telephone chats on Tuesday also urged the Federal Government to make it a priority objective, the welfare of the nation’s ex-sportsmen.
They spoke against the backdrop of Ikedia, who slumped on the pitch while playing for ex-Ajax of Amsterdam stars in an exhibition match two days ago but who had since been revived in a hospital in Amsterdam.
Reacting, an ex-international and former Coach of the Super Eagles, Chief Christian Chukwu, said the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) was aware of his state and was working toward improving his health a great deal.
He said that this care should cut across other sports athletes who were in need of such help and that the NFF should extend little help to them, especially for health needs.
“We have lost so many great talents and we don’t want to lose more of them. We are aware of Pius Ikedia’s health issues and the NFF is working on it,” said Chukwu who coached the Super Eagles to the semi-finals of the 2004 Africa Cup Nations.
“The NFF has realised that we lost so many sport athletes over the years and that little help could have gone a long way to save them. Let’s take the case of Rashidi Yekini, one of the top strikers Nigeria has produced who lost his life in Ibadan while having health issues.
“If the government had shown more interest, he would have probably been alive and by now, be useful to the NFF because of his experience in football,’’ Chukwu, former Green Eagles Captain said.
Another ex-international, Mr. Friday Ekpo, urged government to set up a committee that would assist former footballers, other sportsmen and women who were going through severe health challenges.
Ekpo said that some of the former sportsmen devoted most of their active years in representing the country in international competitions and should not be neglected in time of trouble.
“It’s so pathetic to hear that Pius Ikedia is seriously sick in Holland and of other ex-sportsmen and women that are going through various health challenges. There should be a body or a committee in place to cater for ex-sportsmen that are go through this ordeal.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happened to Rasidi Yekini and others too numerous to mention who were abandoned to die. By so doing, the current sportsmen will be willing and determined to represent the country whenever they are called upon,’’ he said.
He, however, advised sportsmen and women to combine education with their career for future purposes and also save for the future.