The Duke of Sussex Champions Invictus Games Foundation in Nigeria Visit

May 13, 2024
5 Min read
Beyond The Games

May 13, 2024 - Abuja, Nigeria: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have just returned from a mission to Nigeria on behalf of the Invictus Games Foundation, showcasing the power of resilience and the spirit of unity.

The visit, marked by a series of sporting engagements and heartfelt interactions, was to promote the importance of mental health awareness and support for veterans and active-duty service members. The trip followed the 10th Anniversary of the Invictus Games Foundation, which was marked by a series of events in London including a Service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Within Nigeria, it formed part of an Invictus Games Foundation funded sporting camp, supported by Monster Energy Cares.

On arrival, the couple were welcomed to Nigeria by Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, at Defence Headquarters in Abuja. There, the Duke of Sussex outlined the visit’s aim in celebrating the power of sport in recovery, highlighting the resilience of the Nigerian Unconquered members of the Invictus Community. General Musa provided reflections on the role sport plays in giving hope to wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans. With the challenges faced by the Nigerian armed forces, particularly the threat posed by IEDs, the solidarity of the Invictus community has a valuable role to play in providing recognition and support for those who served.

The Duke of Sussex later visited the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, in Kaduna, where he witnessed first-hand the recovery of wounded and injured service personnel and veterans. Col NS Onuchukwu, the Chief Medical Director, provided a tour of the facilities during which The Duke met with 50 members of the hospital included former Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 competitors. The facilities includes a leading physiotherapy gym and a high-tech prosthetics lab – a donation from Germany.

The next day, The Duke visited Nigeria: Unconquered’s training session, a local charitable organisation that supports wounded, injured, or sick service personnel and veterans, and was born from the Invictus movement. They support Team Nigeria’s participation in the Invictus Games, and during this training session, categorisers visited from the Invictus Games Foundation ahead of the upcoming Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025.

Categorisers for the Invictus Games Foundation were in Abuja to assess Team Nigeria in readiness for the upcoming Games. Unique to the Invictus Games, this categorisation process involving volunteers also takes into account the impact of invisible injures on the ability of competitors to participate in sporting competition.

Team Nigeria have been very welcoming, and have an enormous amount of energy and commitment. Their support for us and each other was truly humbling."

Helen Blamey

IGF Lead Categoriser

At this session, The Duke of Sussex joined in a game of Sitting Volleyball, one of the core sports of the Invictus Games, along with Nigeria’s Chief of Defence staff. This was followed by The Duke and Duchess attending a reception with The Widows Association and military families to learn more about the role that family members play in the recovery journey.

At this reception, Lance Corporal Peacemaker Azuegbulam, who met The Duke and Duchess in Canada at the One Year To Go event earlier this year, thanked The Duke for making the games a reality, and said, “It has given me a purpose. My disability does not hinder my ability.”

It has given me a purpose. My disability does not hinder my ability.”

Lance Corporal Peacemaker Azuegbulam

Team Nigeria

The legacy of Nigeria’s participation in the Invictus Games continued, as a 3D tour of the upcoming Nigerian ‘Invictus Centre’ for physical and mental rehabilitation was then introduced. This centre is soon to be developed and represents a continued focus on the importance of sport provision in recovery.

Nigeria’s participation in Invictus Games Foundation’s activity is not limited to Invictus Games events. Last year in 2023, Dean Onwuchikwa joined international participants at a Winter Sports camp in Colorado, USA where he learnt to snowboard for the first time. Run by the AFPST, this camp was part funded by the Invictus Games Foundation to introduce an international cohort to the power of adaptive winter sports. Dean, who was injured in a mine explosion losing both upper limbs, said, “Someone can be healed through my story, or someone can be healed just seeing me snowboarding. So why would I sit down?

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