By Olawale Ayeni, Abuja
Badminton Confederation Africa (BCA) and the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) have expressed great shock over the death of Kwara State head coach, Bello Oyebanji, who is also the reigning African Champion in the SL4 category of para badminton.
Oyebanji died on his way back to Ilorin on Wednesday in a ghastly motor accident after attending an interview at the Spanish Embassy in Lagos to enable him secure a visa for one of the Paralympic qualifiers in Cartagena.
He was buried on Thursday evening in Ilorin.
In it’s letter of condolence to the BFN, BCA described late Bello Oyebanji as “African Para Badminton Champion known and loved by all within the Para Badminton community in Africa and elsewhere”. The BCA letter also described him as a “ representative of the continent on and off the court, whenever he could.“
The President of the BFN, Mr.Francis Orbih said: ” I am still in great shock over the tragic death of Coach Oyebanji. To say that it is a shock is an understatement. We received the news with confusion. How could this happen to a thorough bred badminton disciple? The role model that sat comfortably ovet African Para Badminton is no more. We can only pray for the repose of his gentle and humble soul, and for God to send forth His comfort to the hearts of the family that Bello left behind.”
Bello was the reigning African Champion in the SL4 category of para badminton, a jovial and well-loved personality within and outside Nigeria. He was also a member of the Badminton World Federation – Para Badminton Athletes Commission representing Africa.
Bello Rafiu Oyebanji was a clear example of sheer determination to excel. While he remained a continental champion, he coached and produced national champions. His protégés that have become well known are Sofiyat Arinola Obanishola, Zainab Damilola Alabi, Romoke Ganiyat Taofeek, all of whom are Junior National Team Players with good track records.
Bello’s top female players, Alabi and Obanishola won the gold in the Women’s Doubles category at the just concluded National Sports Festival tagged “Edo 2020”.