Bamgbopa Abayomi Alabi, is the first Nigeria’s Amputee footballer based in Europe. He may have lost his limp but he still fulfilled his dream of playing football as a professional across the Atlantic. In this interview with Eric Olusesan, he shares his success story.
Bamgbopa was born in Kano, though he hails from Ogun State. Starting out at the Bode Ijaiye Primary school, he later attended 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 footballer, but it did not. “I was determined that I would not let the accident end my dream or render me useless”. “Aside wanting to play football, I also have the talent of singing so that was my plan B”.
Bamgbopa’s first adventure into sports was through power-lifting before he was fascinated and joined the Nigerian amputee football team. “Even though I was staying in Abeokuta, I often go to Lagos for training and it was quite exciting because I liked what I was doing.”
Dreams come true if you put your mind to it. “I knew it would be hard. No success comes easy especially for someone like me. I have learnt to pick my battles and focus on victory”. That best explains the amazing journey of Bamgbopa Abayomi Alabi; an amputee footballer who rose to stardom from obscurity.
Bamgbopa prides himself as the first Nigerian to play professional amputee football in Europe. He is the only foreigner playing in Poland where he has a wide range of fans.
Bamgbopa has played 10 international matches for Nigeria which includes appearance at two Nations Cup; first in Liberia from the March 30th to April 6th, 2008, Ghana from the 18th to the 27th of November, where the country’s amputee team qualified for the World Cup but could not go to Mexico due to lack 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 and look for better opportunities.”
That better opportunity did come for Bamgbopa who was invited to France for trial 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 Nigerian amputee star was invited to Poland to further exhibit his skills. Bamgbopa started out with Lampart Warzawa but now plays for Gloria Varsofia in Poland.
Counting his blessing
“I just count my blessings and keep playing to the best of my ability, and try not to let the team or the country down”.
Bamgbopa who plays for Gloria Versovia in the Polish league (EKSTRAKLASA) revealed that his coach Mateusz Szczepaniak has been supportive since he arrived at the club side.
My advice for other Amputees, don’t ever give up in life, stay focus in whatever you are doing.