Former goalkeeper for the Togo men’s national football team, Kodjovi Obilale, was presented with a Special Award by CAF President Ahmad at the CAF Awards 2019 in the Citadel Resort at Sahl Hasheesh in Hurghada.
The 35-year old shot stopper was on the Togolese team bus en route to Angola to participate in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations when it was attacked by a group of rebel terrorists moments after leaving the Congolese border.
Obilale was hit by a bullet as was defender Serge Akakpo. The driver of the bus died on the spot from gunshot wounds and the assistant coach, as well as the team’s media officer, also passed away days later.
Unfortunately for Obilale he never recovered from his injuries and his football career was brought to an abrupt end.
Despite his suffering he launched an initiative to use football to increase awareness of the benefits of practising sustainable agriculture.
The Agrofoot and Sustainable Agriculture initiative promotes the consumption of local products, and encourages investment in the agricultural sector. Obilale’s efforts to champion this, despite his injury, caught the attention of CAF President Ahmad who has pledged CAFs support for the project.
“We have all seen tremendous efforts that this young man has made to recover and we are proud of what he has achieved with this innovative agricultural project despite the great physical challenges he has faced. CAF will financially contribute to this important project and we call on others to join us,” the CAF President said.
Moments after a video of Obilale’s career was aired on the giant screens in the magnificent dome at the CAF Awards 2019, he received a standing ovation as he climbed the podium aided by two crutches, in what was the most emotional moment of the night.
“It’s an honour for me to be among you. It has been a long path and a tough experience to recover and get back on track and I would like to dedicate this trophy to all the victims and their families who were affected by this tragedy. I would like to thank the football world, and I appeal to the world football family for support in my professional and physical life,” an emotion-filled Obilale said.
Obilale was a member of the Togolese squad during their only FIFA World Cup appearance in Germany in 2006.
On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the tragic incident, Obilale finally got the recognition and support has been yearning for over the years.