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Kerala football lovers mourn this Nigerian death

Kochi, Nov 12 (): Football lovers miss a Nigerian in Kerala. Nigerians may not be liked in Goa but along the same coastline, Kerala has a different story to tell involving a Nigerian.

Philip Osigale, 23 breathed his last. People from across the Malappuram district in Kerala came together to donate blood and raise money for his treatment, after he passed away, collected money so that his body could be embalmed and sent home.

A Nigerian from Lagos, Osigale had been staying in Malappuram (North Kerala) for two years, during when he took part in the local Sevens football tournament.

Sevens football is a shorter, one-hour version of the game; the tournament is played when the paddy fields dry up between December and May in the Malappuram district.

Usually, Nigerian players go home or to Kolkata after every Sevens season. But, Osigale stayed back in Malappuram, even coaching school teams and clubs.

Recent years in Kerala have seen an increase in the number of foreign players in the Sevens football tournament. Nigerians numbering around a hundred on an average, are sponsored by 24 local clubs. As per rule, out of the seven members in a team that play, two can be foreigners.

While Malappuram clubs earlier hired Nigerian players from Kolkata, where they would come for the I-League football matches, the players have now started approaching the football clubs directly. The players get ranging from Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000 per game.

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

On hearing news he was in hospital, football fans and clubs raised Rs 4.60 lakh for his treatment. As there was no one from his family to be by the bedside, they took turns to be with him. He stopped responding to medicines, doctors decided to perform replacement of plasma in the blood (plasmapheresis).

Around 150 bags of blood were required for this. The football fans pitched in. Local football clubs and fans pooled money to send Osigale’s body home after embalming. They were awaiting the Nigerian High Commission’s nod to airlift the body to Nigeria,as last heard.

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