‘Don’t neglect Okoya-Thomas’ table tennis legacy…’
THE President, Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy
took time out at the just concluded ITTF World Tour, Lagos Open to pay a condolence visit to the family of late Molade Okoya-Thomas at their Victoria Island residence in Lagos, Nigeria.
The ATTF boss was accompanied by the ATTF Vice President and member, ITTF Board of Directors, Olabanji Oladapo, former ITTF Deputy President, George Segun, as well as Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) board members, led by their president, Wahid Oshodi.
Before his demise on February 1, 2015 at 79, Okoya-Thomas was the longest individual sponsor of table tennis tournament in Africa, as he had bankrolled the annual Asoju Oba Cup for 45 years uninterrupted. The tournament has produced some of the continent’s greatest players including Atanda Musa, Late Yomi Bankole and Biola Odumosu.
The team was received by the children of the departed philanthropist, including Mr. Deji Okoya-Thomas, Ms. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas and Mrs. Tosin Alobo-Bakare.
In his remarks, ATTF helmsman described the late Okoya-Thomas as a strong supporter of table tennis in Africa, saying the visit became necessary in order to symphatise with the family as well as acknowledge the immense contribution that the business mogul made in Nigeria.
“On behalf of ITTF, ATTF and NTTF, we want to express our sincere condolence to the family for the exit of this great man. He was a great man who used his wealth to promote a cause that has changed the lives of so many individuals in Nigeria.
“We believe this great and respectable man has gone but his ideals will still remain with us. He was a strong supporter of the game and he necessitated the birth of the Lagos Open. We hope that his ideal will be
preserved and nurtured by the family even as we hope that others in the continent will emulate this great man. We feel the pain of the family and we believe his soul will rest in peace,” El-Salhy said.
For Oladapo, the late Okoya-Thomas was a shining example for all Nigerians considering his humility and generousity toward everybody.
“He never stopped sponsoring the tournament which started in 1968 and has
produced the likes of Babatunde Obisanya, former Nigeria national coach, as well as Atanda Musa, a star in Africa. We just hope that his dream and aspiration will not be allowed to just go like that. We will surely
miss him in our midst but we take solace in the fact that he has gone to rest finally with the Lord,” Obisanya said.
Responding on behalf of the family, Deji Okoya-Thomas thanked ITTF and ATTF for deeming it fit to visit the family, while assuring that they their late father’s legacy will be nurtured to grow. “I am assuring you
again that the Asoju Oba Cup will continue and this has been the wish of our father and we hope to make it exciting more. Thank you for this golden visit,” he said.
The late chief of Lagos was buried on Friday March 6 in Lagos.
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