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Away from Goa,a Kerala district mourns its favourite Nigerian

Osigale had stayed back in Malappuram,giving coaching to school teams and at clubs.

Written by Shaju Philip | Kochi | Updated: February 18, 2014 12:52:56 pm

Along the same coast as Goa,in another part of India,a different story involving a Nigerian played out last week. As Philip Osigale,23,lay dying,people from across the Malappuram district in Kerala came together to raise money for his treatment,donate blood and,after he passed away,pooled money so that his body could be embalmed and sent home.

From Lagos in Nigeria,Osigale had been based in Malappuram for two years,during the course of which he participated in the local sevens football tournament. A shorter,one-hour version of the game,the tournament is played in the district on its paddy fields when they are dry between December and May.

Normally,Nigerian players return home or travel to Kolkata after every sevens season. However,Osigale had stayed back in Malappuram,giving coaching to school teams and at clubs.

Recent years have seen a rise in the number of foreign players in the sevens tournament — with the Nigerians numbering hundred on an average,sponsored by two dozen local clubs. Of the seven members in a side that plays,two can be foreigners.

While Malappuram clubs earlier recruited Nigerian players from Kolkata,where they would come for the I-League matches,lately the players had started approaching the clubs directly. The players get Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000 per game.

It was around three weeks ago that Osigale came down with a fever from which he never recovered. He passed away on November 7 after multi-organ failure.

“Hearing he was in hospital,football lovers and clubs raised Rs 4.60 lakh for his treatment. As there was no one from his family here,they took turns to be with him,” said Parakkal Anvar,president of Sky Blue Club that had got Osigale from Nigeria.

Abdul Jabbar,who has got several footballers from Nigeria,said as Osigale stopped responding to medicines,doctors decided to perform plasmapheresis (replacement of plasma in the blood). As many as 150 bags of blood are required for this. Again,the fans pitched in.

On Friday,local clubs and fans pooled money to send Osigale’s body home after embalming. “We are awaiting the Nigerian High Commission’s nod,” said Anvar.

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