Chess Record: Abiodun Appoints Tunde Onakoya Sports Ambassador

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*Photo L-R: Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo, Oba Lawrence Jayeoba Adebajo; world record holder in the longest chess marathon, Tunde Onakoya; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; his Deputy, Engr (Mrs.) Noimot Salako-Oyedele; Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrazaq Adenugba; father of the marathon chess champion, Rafiu Onakoya and his mother, Taiwo Onakoya, during a courtesy call on the governor by the marathon champion on Thursday, during which he was presented with the Model of the Gateway City Gate by the governor.*

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has appointed Mr. Tunde Onakoya, the National Master of Chess and the current Guinness World Record Holder for the longest Chess Marathon in history, the Sports Ambassador of the State.

Governor Abiodun, who made this known on Thursday when he received Mr. Onakoya in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, also  announced the commencement of the State Chess Competition to be held in all parts of the state in honour of Mr. Onakoya.

Abiodun, who was impressed with the achievement of the National Chess Master at the global stage, said this could not have been possible without determination and resilience and hard work.

“I can see why you continue to be inspiration to many young people across the length and breath of this country. You have gone further by establishing a foundation called the ‘Chess in Slums Africa’ because you are determined to tell your story and encourage other children and get them out of the slums and give them hope and future.

“Today, we will be officially appointing you as our State Sports Ambassador. Coincidentally, Ogun State will be hosting the National Sports Festival in the next nine months or thereabouts and we are boasting  that we are set to host the best National Sports Festival that has never been held in the history of this country and coincidentally, chess is one of the games that will feature in that event.

“I have decided that because of you and in your honour, we will begin an Ogun State Chess Competition across the length and breath of the state. Since you are now officially our Sports Ambassador and our Chess Ambassador, we will leave it to you to design that competition from the local government all the way to the state level.

“But we as your state, we will have a sponsor in the Tunde Onakoya Prize, for the winner of that competition,” the governor explained.

The governor likened the travails of the Chess Master to that of millions of youths in Nigeria who are struggling to make something out of their lives, stating that his achievements in the face of difficulties is a testimony that life does not recognize where one comes from, place of birth or parent’s status in the society.

He commended the longest Chess Marathon holder in the world, for his resolve to succeed without engaging in dubious activities, noting that with the feat, he has joined the league of illustrious sons and daughters who have done Ogun State proud in their chosen endeavours.

Mr. Onakoya had earlier told the governor of his immense gratitude for the support he received from Nigerians in his march to stardom, adding that he felt proud to be a Nigerian.

He also recalled his challenges while growing up, nothing that he saw chess as a way out of poverty and ability to think critically beyond the surface.

Onakoya acknowledged the unpopularity of chess in the country, attributing it to lack of understanding of the value of the game.

He said he has intensify efforts in making the game popular in Lagos, Kenya and other parts of Africa, saying he and his team are trying to bring the game to the grassroots in collaboration with Lufthansa Airlines.

Onakoya said he was determined to break the world record as it was said that no human had played the game beyond 56 hours, but he did it in 60 hours.

He thanked governor Abiodun for the honour done to him and his parents, pledging to work with the government to make the game attractive to the youths.

“I am proud to be a Nigerian and from Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, I felt highly honoured and happy in the way Nigerians all over the world supported me immensely to achieve this feats and the honour accorded me by our royal fathers and His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, my state Governor,” Onakoya said.

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