By Chux Odoh
Ade Adebisi is a sportsman with a passion for Rugby and uniquely the only known athlete to play the game despite suffering from blood disorder sickle cell anaemia.
As a young child, Ade constantly witnessed his parents’ fear that he would not be able to do what young men his age were capable of doing. A fear that the disease which is still very common in Sub-Saharan Africa and has taken many family members and friends would also take him at a very young age.
Against all odds, Ade’s work in bringing Rugby to young people in Nigeria has received various commendations. The most recent being nominated as a role model for disability in the National Diversity Awards, an organization that actively seeks to showcase outstanding devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion irrespective of race or gender.
The nomination is in recognition of his work to promote the sport, not only in the UK but also back home in Nigeria where Ade has successfully lobbied for the Rugby League Middle East and Africa Championship to be hosted in 2019.
Ade has strived to become the man he is today, a survivor who is keen on making Rugby a prominent sport in Nigeria and other parts of Africa with his brainchild, The Nigerian Rugby League Association (NRLA).
NRLA has been`mandated by the Rugby League Europe Federation and the Nigerian Olympic Association to develop a Rugby League in Nigeria.
Today, as the General Manager of the Nigeria Rugby League Association, Ade believes this is his chance to give young black men and women who need an outlet the same opportunity the sport gave him. “I am not sure what my life would have been but what I do know is that Rugby gave me purpose, gave me discipline and gave me a voice,” he says.
From October 4th to October 8th, this year, Nigeria will host the 2019 MEA Rugby League Championships, the first time such will be held in West Africa, thanks to the leadership and efforts of the former pro player who played as a fullback for London Bronco’s, London Skolars and Hull
The championship to be staged at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos will feature teams from other African countries including Morocco, Ghana and Cameroon.