Athletes Profiles, Coaches

Ikem ibeike -Inie Bonnie A Table Tennis Veteran

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Table Tennis Veteran, Coach

Ikem Ibeike-Inie Bonnie is most renowned for his exceptional achievements as a highly successful table tennis champion and as a coach for both the former Rivers State and the Bayelsa State Sports Council.

Birth/Education

Ikem Ibeike Inie Bonnie, born on May 1, 1954, in Port Harcourt, has a dual heritage, tracing his roots to both the Igbo and Ijaw tribes. His father originates from Imo State in Eastern Nigeria, while his mother is from the Ijaw (Nembe) community. Ikem Ibeike Inie Bonnie spent his entire childhood and later years living with his maternal family in Port Harcourt. Growing up in Twon-Brass, his mother’s hometown, provided him with a deep understanding of the riverine Ijaw traditions and cultures, making him a genuine son of Twon-Brass in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

His educational journey began at the renowned Township School on Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, where he obtained his first school leaving certificate in 1972. Subsequently, he aspired to become a sailor, and the Rivers State Sea School in Isaka was recruiting prospective students. Young Ikem eagerly applied and underwent the selection process. Unfortunately, he did not meet the swimming requirement, which was a prerequisite for admission to the school. Undeterred by this setback, he remained determined to pursue his education.

In his unwavering pursuit of knowledge, he enrolled at the Government Vocational Technical College on Aba Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, from 1973 to 1977. There, he successfully qualified as an Electrical Installation Technician.

His Sports Journey

Aboy Rock, a nickname well-known among his friends since the 1970s, embarked on his table tennis journey during his early years in Port Harcourt. His initial coach was an army officer from the 3 Marine Commando named Dosomu, who hailed from Western Nigeria and resided in Port Harcourt during that era. Aboy Rock fondly recalled that he learned to play table tennis using discarded flat boards (blackboards) and wooden paddles, even though it was an enjoyable experience playing with his friends. Officer Dosomu imparted his knowledge and skills in the game, contributing significantly to Aboy Rock’s development.

Later on, Aboy Rock had the privilege of benefiting from the expertise of Mrs. Etah Jacks, a Kalabari and Ghanaian table tennis champion who had achieved recognition at both the African and Commonwealth levels. Her guidance and mentorship played a pivotal role in Aboy Rock’s success and advancement in the sport.

Sports Employment

In the former Rivers State, Ikem Ibeike Inie Bonnie secured a position as a Stadium Assistant with the Sports Council on October 1, 1977. This opportunity arose after his notable participation in the 1973 sports festival, which marked the inaugural sports festival in Nigeria. During this festival, he, along with Theodore Erekosima and William Benjamin, achieved Gold medals in Table Tennis. Before joining the Rivers State Sports Council, he pursued a coaching program in Lagos. Following his training, he conducted coaching sessions for talented individuals such as Biniebi Newman, the late NUGA champion Elechi, Maclean Iwo, who eventually moved to China, and Iniye Richman, currently a coach for disabled table tennis at the Bayelsa State Sports Council.

In 1978, he earned a promotion to the position of Coach for Table Tennis and continued in this role until the creation of his home state, Bayelsa, in 1996. Later, in 2004, he transitioned from coaching mainstream table tennis and began coaching disabled table tennis players until his honorable retirement in 2012, holding the rank of grade level 14.

Awards & Accomplishments

Mr. Ikem Ibeike-Inie Bonnie is a highly accomplished table tennis athlete with an impressive list of achievements both as a player and coach. Here are some of the notable accolades and achievements in his table tennis career:

  • Lagos Bouvita Junior 1974: He earned a Silver medal in this tournament.
  • Coke Cola 1975 Table Tennis Championship: He secured a Bronze medal in this competition.
  • Nigeria Coke Cola Ibadan 1989: In the team event, his team won a Gold medal. In the singles event, they reached the finals and claimed a Silver medal. Dr. Udome was the Chairman of the Association at the time.
  • Bouvita Open Championship Ibadan 1989: His team received a cash prize in Dollars.
  • African Junior Championship in Côte d’Ivoire 1999: Under his guidance as a coach, his team excelled and earned 7 Gold medals.
  • Hosting of Coke Cola Championship in Lagos: During his tenure as coach, Apostle Zilly Aggrey, the Chairman of the Association, supported the Bayelsa Table Tennis Association in organizing the event. The late Esther Etonye won a Bronze Medal in this championship.
  • Support from Mr. Ikonibho: When Mr. Ikonibho served as the Commissioner for Transportation and Chairman of the Tennis Association, he provided significant support to the association, including tennis equipment valued at over N300,000. Additionally, he organized a tournament that featured substantial cash prizes for the winners, making it a memorable event in Bayelsa state.
  • Table Tennis Tournament in Tunisia: Two of his players participated in a table tennis tournament in Tunisia and achieved remarkable success, winning a total of 7 medals. As a result of this achievement, they were employed into the civil service of Bayelsa state.

These achievements demonstrate Mr. Ikem Ibeike-Inie Bonnie’s significant contributions to the sport of table tennis and his dedication to nurturing talent in the field.

Life After Retirement

After his retirement, Mr. Ikem Ibeike-Inie Bonnie established a Table Tennis Academy in Yenagoa City, Bayelsa State, specifically located in the Ox-Bow lake area. His primary goal in setting up this academy is to mentor and develop young talent in the sport of table tennis. Despite the challenges posed by the difficult economic and social conditions in the country, he takes satisfaction in the work he is doing through the academy. His dedication to nurturing and training the youth in table tennis reflects his commitment to the sport and his desire to contribute positively to the development of young athletes.

Social life

Mr. Ikem Ibeike-Inie Bonnie is known for his sociable personality, and he is equally comfortable interacting with people from all walks of life, regardless of their social status or standing. He has an excellent memory and is often regarded as a reliable source of historical information, particularly related to the past events and anecdotes of old Port Harcourt city.

In terms of his residence, he has a history of living in various locations within Port Harcourt. He initially resided at #69 Victoria Street and later moved to #3 Moore House Street. Subsequently, he made his home at Basketball Hotel on Niger Street. Finally, in 1996, he relocated to Bayelsa State, where he has continued to contribute to the sports community and maintain his reputation as a knowledgeable and friendly individual.

Accident/ill health

In around 2015, while traveling along Opume Road en route to Twon Brass for the chieftaincy coronation of his good friend, Efebo, he was involved in an accident that had a significant impact on his right hand. Additionally, he had the added complication of being diabetic, which likely made the situation even more challenging and complex to manage.

State of Sports

According to his perspective, he observes a significant decline in the state of the sports industry in Nigeria, and he views this transformation as a regrettable one. He reminisces about the earlier decades, from the 1970s up until the creation of Bayelsa State, when the sports sector appeared to be in a much better condition. During that time, the government actively provided and maintained sports facilities, and athletes received proper care in terms of their welfare and training, both domestically and internationally.

He recalls a period when the government extended sports facilities to neighboring communities to foster a love for sports among the youth. Additionally, there were frequent tournaments organized and sponsored by the government and private companies in the old Rivers State, covering a variety of sports such as traditional wrestling, basketball, and football.

However, he laments that in the current era, funding for sports has become scarce, making it challenging to develop and maintain facilities and support athletes for advanced training and participation in tournaments. He expresses a hopeful wish for positive changes to occur in the sports industry, with the hope that conditions will improve for both athletes and the development of sports in Nigeria.

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Abali_Jay
Being passionate about sports, I specialize in creating exceptional sports interfaces. This platform serves as a medium where I share sports articles, aiming to enhance your appreciation and love for the game.
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