Late Kwara basketball Coach, Steve Onishola was today laid to rest in his home town, Aranloye Compound, Isin Local Government Area of Kwara state.
Steve Onishola’s died on 7th January 2021 at age 72, following a brief illness, and his demise has sparked both mourning and celebrations of an icon who was a player, coach and game official who officiated in the then African basketball championship now called Afro basket, All African Games and African clubs championship on numerous occasions spanning over 15 years.
In a day of high emotion, the basketball icon remains was taken to his home town, Aranloye Compound, – where he was interred around 10:00am – before a Church ceremony, after the public wake keep held on Thursday, 14th January 2021, at the Outdoor Basketball court of the Kwara state stadium.
Many in tears, wore T-shirts with picture and name of the deceased boldly emblemed on it , gathered in the streets and around Aranloye Compound, triggering an outpouring of grief, tributes and spontaneous celebration.
Chairman of the Kwara State Basketball Association, Dr Joseph Adeyemo led the tributes as he said: ” Coach Steve epitomizes basketball, he lived and breath the game till his last breathe, his death has left a huge void in the basketball community but his memories will forever lives on”.
Similarly, another basketball veteran, Sule Yankee who coach and played alongside Coach steve, called him a “dear friend” who will perform a task to the letters.
President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Engr Musa Kids in his own submission, recognises Steve’s contribution: ” He’s an ardent basketball lover, a man of peace, humble and caring. He was a FIBA batched referee with the likes of Chris Obojememe, Jimmy Ahmed in the 80’s. Steve will be missed”. He said.
Tunde Popoola, Chairman of Nigeria Basketball Referees Association, described late Coach Steve as an elder brother whose advice, commitments and support to basketball help shape him and many other Referees to top standard.
In reaction, Coach Atanda Alarape, Director of Sports, Kwara State Sports Council respected the late FIBA’s Commissioner principles which reflects on his doings.
Describing his father, Babatunde Onishola said: “Dad has left us but he will never leave us because he’s eternal, he lived for the game throughout his life time and was a simple and generous human”.
Others members of the Nigeria Basketball Community who paid tributes to the late coach were Coach Wale of Oluyole Warriors, Rasheed Bello, Perpetual Clement, Elder Mike Aina, Prof Dominic, Oba Zulu, Bello Azeez, Coach Baba Jubril, Players & Officials of Kwara Falcons.
Others in the Nigeria Sport Industry are Chairman, Kwara State Weigh lifting Association, Dr Steve Olarinoye, Coach Bola Mogaji (member, Nigeria Squash Federation), Coach Tunde Kazeem (Member, Nigeria Badminton Federation), Mrs Sarah Bola Esan (member, Nigeria Women in Sport) amongst other individuals including church leaders and individuals.
Meanwhile, the grand finale of the basketball tournament in memory of late Coach Steve tagged “1st Profilic Basketball Tournament” will be held on Sunday 17th, 2021 at the Outdoor Basketball court of the state stadium by 4:00pm where a Posthumous award will be given to honour the deceased.