Nigeria: 10 Deaths That Shook Nigerian Sports in 2020

The youngest among the deaths was a promising 16-year old female basketball player.

The year 2020 is one many agree is a turbulent one especially with the coronavirus pandemic, which has continued to ravage virtually all countries of the world.

In Nigeria, the impact of the pandemic has been severe with several deaths recorded and the country going into another economic recession.

Taking stock of sporting achievements in 2020 is a near futile exercise as most sporting competitions were either postponed or suffered outright cancelations.

In the midst of all these, some personalities in sports circles lost their lives and would not be around to see what 2021 has to offer.

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Here are some of the Nigerian sports personalities who died In 2020.

Ajibade Babalade

The former Super Eagles defender died on September 4 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Babalade, 48, took ill a day before his death and was taken to the University College Hospital Ibadan where he passed away.

The hard-tackling retired defender was part of the Super Eagles squad to the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal where the national team won the bronze.

Chineme Martins

The death of the 23-year-old was quite painful as many believe it was one that was avoidable if the minimum health facilities were in place on the day of his demise at the Lafia Township Stadium.

The Nasarawa United defender died on March 8 during a Nigeria Professional Football League game.

Martins fell unconscious during the second half of Nasarawa’s league match against Katsina United.

Martins’ death was the second time fans in Lafia witnessed a tragedy in recent years.

In December 2018, Kano Pillars’ star Dominic Dukudod collapsed while warming up in a friendly against Nasarawa United.

John Felagha

The former National U17 and U20 goalkeeper died on August 30 in Senegal.

Felagha was a member of the 2009 Golden Eaglets squad though he was on the bench throughout the tournament as Nigeria won silver behind Switzerland.

He was also part of the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup but failed to make any appearance in that tournament.

The 26-year-old was said to be awaiting airlifting back to Nigeria on holidays before the unfortunate incident.

Razak Okedeyi

Okedeyi was one of the country’s fast-rising basketball referees until his death and was a key member of the Nigerian Basketball Referees Council.

He was last in action during 2019/2020 Total Division One League held earlier this year in Lagos.

Okedeyi was the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Lagos State Referees Council as well as the founder and head coach of Flygerian Basketball Academy.

Deborah Onu

This was another sad death that may have been avoided as the deceased for a long time was being treated for the wrong ailment.

Instead of being treated for tuberculosis of the spine, Onu at different times across different health facilities was subjected to treatment for ulcer, typhoid, and even back pain.

The 16-year-old was due to write her Senior Secondary School examination in May/June 2020 and her basketball potentials suggests she could even be on her way to the United States afterward, but what looks like a bright future was truncated by the sad death.

Michael Ojo

The Nigerian-American basketball player died after suffering a heart attack during a training session.

Ojo, who plays for Serbian team Crvena Zvezda, collapsed at the Partizan Stadium in Belgrade and was taken to a local hospital where he later died.

An invitee to the Nigeria men’s National Basketball team, D’Tigers, Ojo represented Florida State University as a college senior before heading to Serbia to pursue a professional career.

Uremu Adu

The grassroots athletics coach died on May 10 in Lagos after a brief illness.

A regular face across several sporting facilities in Lagos, Coach Adu has produced a lot of sporting talents; some of whom are already in the United States to further their education and career.

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Emmanuel Ibah

Emmanuel Ibah
Emmanuel Ibah

The Nigeria Football Federation had its own fair of share deaths in 2020 and one of the big losses was Mr. Ibah.

He was the NFF coordinator for the South-South zone and was also the Akwa Ibom football association chairman until his death. He was 61 years of age.

Chidi Okenwa

This was another painful deaths in the country’s football administration circles.

Mr. Okenwa was Chairman of the Nigeria National League until his death and was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). He died on May 5 aged 50.

Musa Duhu

The NFF Exco Committee Member passed on in September 19. Until his date, the Late Duhu was also the Chairman of the Adamawa State Football Association.

Apart from the death recorded in Nigeria, there were a number of other high-profile deaths across the world including Diego Maradona, Kobe Byrant, Palo Rossi among many others.

RIP to the lost souls.

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