The year 2018 is filled with so many dreams and aspirations for sportspersons around the world and it is not any different for Bamgbopa Abayomi, an amputee footballer based in Poland.
Bamgbopa who prides himself as the first Nigerian to play professional amputee football in Europe told PREMIUM TIMES that among other things he has his eyes on two major targets for 2018.
“I have made up my mind to represent Nigeria at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico and I am also hopeful of winning my first league title in Poland with my team; Gloria Varsovia this year,” Bamgbopa stated.
The Amputee Football League in Poland (EKSTRAKLASA) starts this weekend and having come quite close in his past four years, Bamgbopa is positive this could be his lucky year.
“We have finished in second-place twice and the third position twice, hopefully, we will be number one this season” Bamgbopa who is the only foreigner playing in the EKSTRAKLASA posited.
On the World Cup scheduled to take place between October 24 and November 5, 2018, in Mexico, Bamgbopa admits that much more is still expected if the country will actualise the dream of participation and then making an impact at the global event.
A task for Super Eagles
Across different countries in Europe and beyond, football stars who see themselves as more privileged having been very supportive of amputee footballers who despite their disability are going out of their way to play the round leather game.
In Poland where Bamgbopa is based, Bayern Munich star, Robert Lewandowski is a big source of motivation for the country’s amputee football team.
He does not only financially support the team, but he also often fraternises with the players in their training and elsewhere to give them a huge sense of belonging.
It is the same with the Irish team where former Tottenham Hotspur star Robbie Keane is leading the way in helping the country’s amputee football team.
Across South America, the story is not different and for Bamgbopa, it will be welcoming to also see Super Eagles players emulate their colleagues across the world and be of support to the Nigeria Amputee football team.
“I have the belief that once the Special Eagles (Nigeria’s Amputee Football Team) officially approach the Super Eagles stars, they should be of immense help to us.
“We know the good works the likes of Obafemi Martins, Ahmed Musa, Kenneth Omeruo, Shehu Abudulahi, Onazi and all the other Nigerian players are doing, we hope they can help the amputee football team,” Bamgbopa noted.
Rough road to stardom
Indeed, dreams come true if you put your mind to it and throw in all you have got no matter the obstacles that come your way.
That best explains the amazing journey of Bamgbopa who has literally risen from obscurity to stardom and global reckoning.
It is understood that the Nigerian star who is the only foreigner playing in Poland was even courted to play for the Scandinavian country’s national team.
Born in Kano, Bamgbopa hails from Ogun State and grew up in the rocky city of Abeokuta with no form of disability in his initial stages of life.
Starting out at the Bode Ijaiye Primary school, he later attended the Lisabi Secondary school and it was at this stage that he was involved in an accident.
That incident ought to have put paid to his ambition of being a professional football player but as it is usually said that when there is a will there is a way, Bamgbopa made the most of his new status and he was the better for it.
“I was determined that I would not let the accident end my dream or render me useless. Aside wanting to play football, I also had the talent of signing so that was my plan B,” Bamgbopa told PREMIUM TIMES.
It turned out to be that music was not his way even though he loved singing. Bamgbopa’s first adventure into sports was through Powerlifting before he was fascinated and joined the Nigeria amputee football team.
“Even though I was staying in Abeokuta, I regularly come to Lagos for training and it was quite exciting because I liked what I was doing.”
Bamgbopa represented Nigeria at two Nations Cup; first in Liberia and then Ghana where the country’s amputee team qualified for the World Cup but could not go to Mexico in 2014 owing to paucity of funds.
“We were the only team that qualified for the World Cup in Mexico and didn’t show up, it was quite discouraging but I made the resolve that I would continue to work hard, look for better opportunities.”
That better opportunity did come for Bamgbopa who was invited to France for trials and thus wrote his name in Gold as Nigeria’s first amputee player In Europe.
It turned out to be that France was only a transit base as the Nigeria amputee football star was invited to Poland to further exhibit his skills.
Bamgbopa started out with Lampart Warzawa but he now plays for Gloria Varsovia.
“I am grateful for how God has helped me this far, I pray he continues to cover me more and more and also family
World Cup hosts
Mexico has been chosen to host the 2018 World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) World Cup.
The competition is scheduled to take place between October 24 and November 5, 2018
The tournament will gather the national teams from 24 countries to compete for the trophy last won by Russia in 2014.
The competition will take place in four cities across the State of Jalisco – Guadalajara, San Juan, Logos de Moreno and Chapala.