Yoruba Tennis Club Waxing Stronger at 96

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Yoruba Tennis Club waxing stronger at 96The first meeting that gave birth to the oldest indigenous social club in Nigeria, Orelodun Tennis Club, and later changed Yoruba Tennis Club,as the club known today, was held probably in the early part of 1926, but the second meeting that was documented held at 75, Tokunboh Street, Lagos on Thursday, 15th July 1926.

Although, before Nigeria attained Independence on 1st October, 1960, social clubs such as Lagos Country Club, Ikoyi Club et al, were already in existence in the country, but it was more of foreigners’ affair, as life in Nigeria in the early old colonial days was harsh and discriminatory for the indigenous inhabitants.

Lagos, the then capital of Nigeria, was the centre of social clubs of different aims, activities and membership. With Nigeria’s independence in 1960, more Nigerians, especially in the major cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and others formed and joined different social clubs, having become a status thing.

In social life and sporting activities, the European overlords segregated themselves into exclusive clubs to which no Nigerian (or African) was considered fit for admission no matter his or her attainment in the academic or social field. Thus, in the early twenties in Lagos, the Europeans had formed an exclusive Tennis Club, situated at the present site of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, to which even the most enthusiastic Nigerian players of the game were not admitted.

It was therefore, as an understandable reaction to this discrimination and more positively, to promote the spirit of brotherhood, fellowship and the healthy development of the mind and body, in a congenial social setting and through the playing of games especially that of Lawn Tennis, (which at that time was second in popularity to the game of football), that the idea of forming an indigenous club was conceived.

Bro. Chief Euzebio Babajide Damazio, Chairman of Yoruba Tennis Club

Like all great human achievements, the Yoruba Tennis Club, which clocked 96 years on Friday July 15, 2022, had a humble, informal but sincere beginning. From its inception, the Club devoted its attention and energy to the building of a Club House and the construction of Lawn Tennis Courts. And to this end, an approach was made to the then Colonial Government, under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Sir Graeme Thomson, for the allocation of a piece of land.

Fortunately, the prayer was granted and the pioneers were given a land at a location then known as 15, Old Golf Links, Onikan Lagos (later changed to 3, Onikan Road, Lagos) on which they built a Club House and two Tennis Courts. The first of the Tennis courts which was erected entirely from voluntary contributions in cash or in kind by members themselves, was informally opened on Wednesday, 15th December, 1926. The Tennis court was built then at a cost of 82 Pounds, Eight Shillings and Two Pence (N164.82).

Yoruba Tennis Club continued to hold its meetings and social activities at 75, Tokunboh Street, Lagos, the residence of Bro. Willie O. Fagbo until the first Club House was formally opened towards the latter part of 1936. Informal gatherings, especially after playing Tennis, were held under a tree in the Club’s premises.

In the early days, the members also devoted their attention to finding a befitting name for the Club – one which would reflect their twin objectives of promoting brotherliness and the healthy development of mind and body.

Among the names suggested to qualify the Tennis Club were the following: – “Kinitalafia”, “Borokinni”, “Gbajumo”, “Yoruba”, “Saluga”, “Omoloju”, “Eko”, “Karaole”, “Oredun”, “Orelodun”. Finally at its monthly general meeting held on Friday, 15th September 1926, the name “Yoruba Tennis Club” was unanimously adopted and the Club as it is now known was inaugurated.

Although the Club was finally named “The Yoruba Tennis Club”, it was never the intention of the Founding Fathers to restrict its membership to those of Yoruba origin alone. They ensured that the outlook and activities of the Club reflected its cosmopolitan nature. A review of the composition of its membership from its inception till date clearly shows that the Club has faithfully kept to this.

At the meeting of 15th September, 1926, the following were elected as the first officers of the Club:

-Mr. V. Ade Allen – Chairman

Mr. Willie O. Fagbo – Secretary

Mr. Agboola Tubi – Assistant Secretary

Mr. Jeariogbe Tubi – Treasurer

Mr. R. Adewole Randle – Captain

Mr. Ayo Williams – Sub-Captain

Committee Members:

-Mr. Gilbert C. Johnson

Mr. Chris A. Taylor

Mr. Abraham A. John

Apart from the above, the Founding Fathers of the Club also included the following:

Mr. A.W. Fanu – Mr. L.D. Emanuel

Mr. Moses Fashaye – Mr. B.A. Cole

Mr. J.A. Haastrup – Mr. F. Ade Adeniji

Mr. J. St. Ariori – Mr. Isaac O. John

Mr. L.L. Martins – Mr. C.J. Mensah

Mr. H.R. Harding – Mr. Akin Freeman

Mr. M.A. Sho-Silva – Mr. J. St. Daniel

Mr. K. Sikuade – Mr. O. Oduyoye

Mr. V.E. Johnson – Mr. M.S. Awolesi

Mr. Frank Odumosu – Mr. I.E.A. Adeleye

Mr. Victor O. Williams – Mr. D. Jordan

Mr. P.K. Sagoe – Mr. C.B. Thompson-John

Mr. H.S. Macaulay – Mr. H.M. Alli-Balogun

Mr. T.A. Savage – Mr. Isaac Silvanus John

Mr. G.I. Oni-Orisan.

To this end, the staff and management of Clubsworld, felicitate with the Club’s executive officers under the chairmanship of the club, Bro. Chief Euzebio Babajide Damazio–and the entire members of Yoruba Tennis Club, the first indigenous social club in Nigeria. Happy 96th Anniversary.

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