As part of ways to immortalize the late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, the Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF has said it will be organising a memorial tournament for the late sport philanthropist.
NTF President, Engr. Sani Ndanusa disclosed that the Federation has already communicated the plan to the family of Chief Okoya-Thomas.
“Our plans have already been revealed to the family and Deji, his eldest son, has already consented to it; although there will be more talks in the coming weeks to work out the modalities for the tournament,” Ndanusa said after the lying-in-state service for the deceased in Lagos on Friday.
He added that the tournament which will be taking place at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, which the deceased was its former president, will then be upgraded to accommodate players from the continent and eventually feature players from all parts of the world which is its ultimate target.
“Chief Okoya-Thomas belongs to the international class as far as tennis is concerned and this is why the tournament must have international flavour.
|Late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas will be immortalised with an international event soon Photo Credit: Encomium|
“He was unarguably Nigeria’s number one tennis fan and he is our face in the game at the international level. He is recognised by the ITF and this can be substantiated by the fact that he is acknowledged at Wimbledon Open, French Open and the Australian Open which he attended regularly over the years”.
Ndanusa, while lamenting the demise of Okoya-Thomas, who is also a patron of the NTF, revealed that plans to celebrate the 80th birthday of the deceased will go on in France on 8 June.
“He always looks forward to the French Open. This is where in the last ten years, he always celebrates his birthday which always falls to the period of the French Open.
Because some things have been put in place ahead, we will still be going on with his birthday which is now post-humours.
“Thankfully, Deji has accepted to stand in for him”.
Ndanusa, a former sports minister explained that the decision to go ahead with the party is to celebrate the good legacies that Okoya-Thomas is known for.
“He lived a fulfilled and an exemplary life and that is why he is regarded as everybody’s man. Everything about him is worth celebrating”.