Updated: Dec 4, 2022
The Super Eagles did not make the grade for this year’s 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Their spot was taken by the Black Stars of Ghana, who edged them on the away goals rule in the playoff final at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Humble Beginnings: Nigerian International Ola Aina (R) handing over one of his Torino F.C playing tops to Aliguma Foundation CEO Rita Aliguma. (Photo/AF Media)
That 1-1 result, following a 0-0 draw in Kumasi in March 2022 broke hearts of a thousand sport-loving Nigerians in a match that attracted some bad press because of a stampede.
Despite leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many, the three-time African champions are truly soccer giants and remain a darling of many not only in Africa but across the global divide.
A country of 200 million plus people, Nigeria is also gifted with several world beaters and inspirational athletes from the different sports disciplines.
Eagle-Eyed: Aina represented England at the junior level before opting to play for Nigeria at the senior level. (Photo/DailyPost.NG)
Aina aims for change
Super Eagles utility back Ola Aina belongs into the class and even goes a notch better as a big-hearted athlete with magical gifted giving hands.
A casual friendship made in Uganda mid this year during one of the many Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) charity meetings Aliguma Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ritah Aliguma attends to solicit help for the disadvantaged and share experiences with the day-to-day dealings with the latter has bore fruit faster than anticipated.
Happy People: (L-R); AIPS staffer Chibuogwu, Nigerian star Aina, CEO Ritah, Cicatiello and Ugandan journalist Mbabazi soon after Torino's match against Empoli. (Photo/AF Media)
CEO Ritah came into touch with Matteo Cicatiello and loved the Aliguma Foundation storyline since the body’s initiation in 2017 and pledged support through his elite connections.
That, too, came to pass when Ritah visited Europe two months ago. Cicatiello linked Ritah to Aina, with the latter inviting the former for VIP Box Treatmenta t Torino FC versus Empoli Serie A clash on Uganda’s Independence Day - October 9th at the Tribune Granata in Turin.
“We had a good time at the stadium in Turin,” said Ritah, who was flanked by her close friend Grace Lindsay Mbabazi, a renowned female sports journalist in Uganda, Cicatiello and International Sports Press Association (AIPS) staffer Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam.
“We raised Uganda’s flag high as we cheered on Aina. Some onlookers could have thought Aina is a Ugandan. After the match Aina and I talked about several charity organizations, opportunities and how he could get involved.
“Ola has already delivered on his promise but more importantly than donate to the Foundation, Aina also wants to learn what we do and how we do it. He is such an open-minded fellow who is willing to visit us in Uganda, take the lessons back to West Africa and do the same in Nigeria.”
Blossom Buddies: Ritah Aliguma (R) and Grace Lindsay Mbabazi fly Uganda's flag during Torino's match against Empoli at the Tribune Granata on October 9. (Photo/AF Media)
The former Chelsea full back has already wired millions of shillings to the foundation for its ongoing activities more importantly the Annual Banda Slums Soccer Tournament in Acholi Quarters and gone ahead to donate one of his original playing jerseys.
The kit will be auctioned at a well-organized event that will bring together all of the Aliguma Foundation’s partners in the first quarter of 2023.
“I am so much into charity and giving back to the community,” read in part Aina’s message to Aliguma Foundation Media Team.
“I know the future of great footballers comes from disadvantaged communities and societies. I hope my little help can make a great change to many little ones and also make other athletes in Nigeria and all over the world realise the plight of the vulnerable and give back in one way or another. The money is only my first act and the shirt is dedicated to the children in the slums and commitment that I will be supporting the Aliguma Foundation projects.”
After enjoying an impressive campaign while on loan in Italy - making 30 Serie A appearances - Torino opted to fully sign the gifted player a couple of months back. At the Foundation, we are grateful to Aina for his priceless gesture and wish the Nigerian International the very best of days and a fast-forward moving career at Torino.
Defence Kingpin: Aina patrols the defence of Torino FC in one of the recent Italian Series A matches this season. (Photo/SB Nation)
About Ola Aina
Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina is a professional footballer who plays as a wing-back or right back for Serie A club Torino, and the Nigeria national team.
Once Upon A Blue: Aina enjoyed success earlier in his career while still at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea. (Photo/Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
OLA AT A GLANCE Full names: Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina
Born: October 8, 1996
Age: 26 years
Place of Birth: London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
Height: 1.84 m
CLUB HISTORY - DATES JOINED 2022: (Torino FC)
2020: (Fulham F.C.)
August 2018: (Torino F.C.)
2017: (Hull City)
2016: (Chelsea F.C.)
Siblings: Jordan Aina