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OBITUARY

Swindon FC pay glowing tributes to Titus Okere, last survivor of Nigeria’s 1949 UK Tourists

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

 The remains of Titus Okere, the last of the 18 UK Tourists players has been laid to rest at the  Bluebell Hill crematorium in Kent, in United Kingdom. According to his granddaughter, Frances Okere, “it was a lovely service. Swindon Town paid tribute to him and sent him a tie.”

Swindon Town FC was the first club that Okere played for when he joined in February 1953 as Nigeria’s first player to sign a professional football contract.

Frances also informed that: “My Nigerian family mentioned my grandad played a friendly against Brazil and there’s some video footage of it.”

Tribute by Swindon Town FC

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A  customized tie sent to Titus Okere family by Swindon Town FC

The high point of the funeral was the tribute paid by Swindon Town FC. It runs thus:

“Although he only made a few first-team appearances for Swindon Town. he was held in the highest regard by supporters and colleagues of the club alike.

“He had come to the club’s attention when he toured England with the Nigerian international team An outside left, he was nicknamed “the golden boy- because of his ability to create chances out of nothing.

“The credit for signing him for Swindon must go to Mr Louis Page. the manager. He was obviously keen to sign him as in January, two Board Meetings received reports on whether or not he would arrive by January 20th before he managed to get to this country and sign on in February as a twenty-five-year-old.

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“It was typical of his sunny personality that he never complained about. not always being given a first-team chance. Swindon had a notoriously heavy pitch and it would have been impossible to wear the light footwear that he had worn playing for the Nigerian national team playing on it.

“One wonders if the light, flexible boots of today had been around. he might have been able to adapt in a way that the high, stiff leather boots worn at the time prevented.

“It is sad to report that a television company had asked for permission to be allowed to film Titus making a demonstration of how to play in bare feet, but the request was refused.

“Evidently, the Board, if not the manager, were adamant about not having a player not wearing conventional footwear.

“Another thing that may have affected his performance was the absence of his wife. He requested but was refused help in enabling his wife to come over to England. The Minute on this matter was to the effect that Titus would have to prove himself on the pitch first.

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“One wonders if had the request been granted, he might have felt  more wanted and been willing to accept that he could make a home for his family in this country and that it would be worthwhile to have to get used to wearing football boots.

“Despite only being a few months, he was on Swindon’s books: those who saw him in the reserves talk of a very quick and elusive winger who frequently got the better of his full-back but whose centres were not always capitalised on.

“Sadly, it was not enough to convince the directors to retain his services, and he was released on a free transfer on the April retained and released list.

“His appearances in the Swindon reserve team evidently impressed somebody in the Chippenham United camp.

“On leaving Swindon, he was recruited by Chippanharn United, where he made an immediate impact providing a first-minute cross in the opening game of the season that led to a goal. He was also to play in the F.A Cup for Chippenham later in the season.

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“At the time of his passing, he was the oldest Swindon player to have played for his country, and although the number of people who saw him play is dwindling, the year of his passing has also seen the launch of a Swindon Town Football Museum, which will ensure his memory as a great

Ambassador for his country and skillful player is kept alive.”

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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OBITUARY

Nigeria’s Sports Minister Condoles With Sports Sector, Family of Ekene Adams

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Nigeria's Sports Minister, John Owan Enoh signs the condolence register

Tributes have started pouring in over the death of Ekene Adams, the chairman of the Sports Committee of the Federal House of Representatives.

Adams passed on in the early hours of this Tuesday. The sports minister, John Owan Enoh remarked that the  the late legislator had deep passion for sports, which is exemplary.

The minister extended his deepest condolences to his family. Enoh expressed his sadness, stating, “Honourable Ekene was deeply passionate about sports and played a significant role in the growth and development of sports in Nigeria.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences to Honourable Ekene’s family. He was a sportsman par excellence who not only played the game but also administered and invested in it. We will miss his wealth of experience and the passion he brought to sports.”

Reflecting on their recent interactions, Senator Enoh added, “We were discussing Nigeria’s preparations for the Olympic Games, and he consistently demonstrated his patriotism and leadership.”

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“Honourable Ekene was a kind and gentle humanitarian, loved by all who knew him. His dedication to the development of grassroots sports in Nigeria was solid, and his contributions to the house will be deeply missed.”

Honourable Ekene Adams passed away after a period of illness. Until his passing, he served as the chairman of the House Committee on Sports.

He also held positions as the CEO of Kada City Football Club and general manager of Remo Stars at different times before winning the House of Representatives seat in the 2023 general election.

The Minister of Sports , permanent secretary, Mrs Tinuke Watti , President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr Habu Gumel ,the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives amongst others were present to condole with the family.

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OBITUARY

CAF mourns South Africa’s first national team coach, Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala

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Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala.

The Confédération of African Football, (CAF) President Dr Patrice Motsepe is saddened by the news of the passing of former coach of the South African National Team, Mamelodi Sundowns and a Senior Official at Orlando Pirates FC, Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala.

Tshabalala was the first coach of the South African Senior Team, Bafana Bafana after re-admission in 1992.

In his career, he played for Orlando Pirates FC and was a Technical Director at Kaizer Chiefs FC.

President Motsepe said: “Mr “Screamer” Tshabalala’s contribution to the development and growth of South African football is enormous and recognized by all who have been involved and associated with football in our country over many years.

“He is recognised as the Father of the “shoe shine and piano” style which he initiated whilst being Head Coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. Mr “Screamer” Tshabalala represented the very best of South African football and African football and will always have a special place in our hearts.”

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CAF President Dr Motsepe conveys heartfelt condolences to the family of Stanley Tshabalala, Orlando Pirates Chairman Dr Khoza and the South African Football Association (“SAFA”), as well as the entire South African Football Football Family.

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OBITUARY

Ekene Adams, former Remo Stars GM & House of Reps Sports Committee Chairman is dead

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Hon.Ekene Adams

A pall of darkness has fallen on the Nigeria’s sports sector as a sports administrator, Ekene Adams, has passed on in the early hours of this Tuesday. He was aged 39.

 He was the Chairman of the House of Representatives  Committee on Sports. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of the Nigerian Premier League side, Remo Stars before going into politics and winning a seat in the Federal  House of Representatives  representing Chikun/Kajuru Federal Constituency, Kaduna State,.

 He reportedly died in the early hours of Tuesday although the cause of his death has not been ascertained at the time of filing this report.

A former football player, Adams served as the general manager of  Remo Stars as well as Kada City before he won a seat in the House of Representatives during the 2023 general elections. His sport background earned him the role of the reps committee chairman on sports despite being a first timer in the green chamber.

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