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Reflections of Nigeria’s sporting families in history

*Reflections of a reporter’s diary

By Olajide Fashikun

They are all from Nigeria. Siblings from what is better known as sporting families. They came together into sports. Their stories is fun. Reflections of the past. We tracked the reflections back from records of previous reports done by a reporter of yore recalling published interviews. Enjoy a trip through the corridors of history where we show you the relics of the reflections. This is the debut. We shall be bringing you new ones as we go.

Coach Aderemi Owolo, basketball...his brother went into corporate governance
Coach Aderemi Owolo, basketball…his brother went into corporate governance

Aderemi and Dele Owolo: Aderemi was in basketball while Dele was in Volleyball. Both of them played for Kwara State. They were very excellent. They were exceptional and outstanding. As school boys, they both earned national team calls. Aderemi later became coach in the sport while Dele went to school, graduated ad has remained in the corporate world.

Dele was in his time one of the best setters in the country with exceptional lift whence he is expected to set for others to spike and will go for a three metre spike to surprise the opposite team. Dele presently works in Abuja.

Davidson and Osmond Ezinwa: When they came out, Alhaji Babayo Shehu employed a retinue of young athletes that will make his Bauchi State where he was Director of Sports tops. That was the major outing of the twin brothers: Davidson and Osmond Ezinwa. They eventually left for America where both of them now live, settled with their families.

Yemi, Ayo, Taiye, Taiwo and Kehinde Aladefa: This family of athletes with their roots planted in Ilorin. They lived in Ibadan both followed the eldest folk, Yemi, a great sprinter and long jumper. Ayo, a left handed multi-sport athlete came. He was exceptional in Volleyball,

The Green Eagles of Nigeria in 1976. Sporting families
The Green Eagles of Nigeria in 1976. Sporting families

handball, sprints. Then, the twins, Taiye and Kehinde. Taiye added volleyball, like Ayo and Yemi to her list of sports. Then, the third hurdler in the family, Taiwo. They all live abroad except for Ayo who passed on recently.

Joseph and Josephine Olotu: Twins. Exceptionally jovial and very passionately religious. Joseph was one of the best goalkeepers to have dorned the national team jerseys. He added to Abiodun Olorunnipa, Samuel Johnson, Kareem Sule and a very young Tunji. He had an accident and lost one of his legs. Then, both sibblings took to preaching. They are today successful clergies in their rights.

Oba Olateru Olagbegi...seed of the tennis family
Oba Olateru Olagbegi…seed of the tennis family

Joke and Rolake Olagbegi: Two sisters from a massively biased tennis family. If you are an Olagbegi and there is no tennis in your genes, you are likely to be classified as fake. Joke is junior to Rolake who then was the queen of the racket.

In one of my rare interviews published by Daily Times, she said: “I feel proud having her for a sister. Whatever happens on court will not change that. I know I am not as good as she is and this does not in anyway make me envious but I will try to be as good now that I have nothing disturbing me as was the case in the last three years. Joke never dawned Rolake. They both live in the US now.

Emmanuel and Patrick Okala: Two brothers from Rangers International FC of Enugu. Both played for the Green Eagles. Emmanuel towered until 1980 when Patrick, the younger goalkeeper emerged and strongly. He also broke into the national team. He died at prime. Emmanuel is now old but remained a long face in the Rangers outfit.

Ndubuisi and Nkiru Okosieme: Their father was an outstanding football player. Ndubuisi emerged from handball and ended in football playing in the cadet national teams. The sister also emerged from handball and ended in the football national team.

Iheagwam
Tina Iheagwam

Kate and Tina Iheagwam: Tina is senior to Kate. Tina was petite and Kate was tinier. Kate went to University of Ife. She did 100m and 200m. She was caught in a report I did in The Nigerian Herald saying, “Tina will do her own thing and I will do mine. The fact that we are sisters will not come in whenever we meet at a competition. It might inspire us to make better times.

Kate from taking part in inter-house sport competitions at Awori Ayoromi Grammar School 2, Agboju Amuwo to representing her school in invitational relay races

“I am happy she is my sister. I am proud of her. Those who know these are always frightened when competing against me not knowing that I am not as good as her yet but I will, that is just a matter of time. If the plans she has for me comes through I hope to join her in the US. Then, I will advise other sprinters to beware because two of us will just be too hot to handle.”

Kate is in Nigeria married to a journalist while Tina still lives in America.

Olusegun Odegbami...left no shoe for Wole
Olusegun Odegbami…left no shoe for Wole

Wole and Olusegun Odegbami: Two brothers who started from West of Mines street in Jos. Both were footballers who played the right wing. I sought and got a previous interview with Wole when he played for Leventis United of Ibadan. Asked why he is not growing out of the shadows of his elder brother, he retorted: “I am Wole not Segun. Tht is why he is my elder brother. There’s no doubt about that. There is no way I can step into his shoes, infact he did not leave any behind.”

I am not trying to undermine his success but peole must learn to take me for who I am. Its not been easy being Segun’s kid brother but I intend to do my best without being reminded at every turn that my brother did not do it like that when he was still playing.”

Wole played JIB Strikers of Jos. he lives abroad settled with his family while Segun, played for IICC of Ibadan, has remained standing like the shining star as a writer and television presenter of Sports Parliament on Nigeria Televsion Authority as the Speaker.

Mary Onyali...afraid and did not let Winnifred defeat her
Mary Onyali…afraid and did not let Winnifred defeat her

Winnifred and Mary Onyali: Winnifred ran 200m and 400m for Lagos state. She told this Daily Times reporter: “Mary’s performance has little to do with my interests but a lot of my inspiration since my aim is to run against her one day and beat her particularly in the 200m which happens to be her main event.

I have a better advantage than her because I have her to guide me and I know what is at stake but she might continue to look at me as a junior while she will be getting older. The day we meet to compete will be interesting.

Mary and Winnifred are two different people from the same mother, Julianah. That is where it stops. People should understand and give me time. I know I can run better than her in future.

These dreams remained what they were. Winnifred lives in America and Mary is back in Nigeria raising funds and hunting to bring up new kids as the Executive Director (Technical) of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc

Olapade Adeniken...Yinka despite his speed never took on his elder brother
Olapade Adeniken…Yinka despite his speed never took on his elder brother

Olapade and Yinka Adeniken: Two brothers from the same father. They attended the same secondary school, Cherubim & Seraphim College Ilorin. Their principal, Pa David Akintola will in the days watch from the corner of his house his athletes competing on the sandy pitches in the Sabo-Oke school. Yinka was a faster sprinter though younger unlike Olapade who is taller, stronger and has long reach and a bursting finish.

Olapade came out from that sandy track under the tutelage of coach Harrison Momah to win the All Secondary School sports festival in 1985 wherefrom he never looked back.

While Olapade lives in America Yinka is said to live in Nigeria. Both of them are settled family men.

Femi and Folorunsho Okenla: Two Okenla brothers, Femi and Folorunsho. Femi  captained University of Ife and won the gold medal @ NUGA 86. He was also a gold medallist in 1984. He  played for several clubs including Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan. He was later to serve on the board of Shooting Stars FC in 1998/2005. On the other hand, Folorunso Okenla played for University of Ibadan in 1986 and won silver medal in the Nigeria University Games. He also played for the great Leventis FC of Ibadan managed by Mr John Mastroudes, Julius Berger FC of Lagos. He featured in the senior national team, the Green Eagles and had a stint in England as a professional footballer.

Both men are doing great in business now.

Watch out for the next in the series of sporting reflections from Nigeria’s sports men and women of yore.

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One comment

  1. Hi Jide, compliments for this report, but dont forget the Okenla brothers. Femi Okenla captained University of Ife,and won the gold medal @ NUGA 86,also a gold medallist in 1984. He also played for several clubs including Shooting Stars FC. He was also a board member of Shooting Stars FC in 1998/2005. Folorunso Okenla played for University of Ibadan in 1986 and won silver medal. He also played for Leventis FC, Julius Berger FC, Green Eagles and in ENgland as a professional footballer. Vintage Gongnews, this is just to enhance your research as a leading on-line news platform