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Thelma Agara A Veteran Chess Champion

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Thelma Agara, a proficient expert in mass communication, entered the realm of sports in the early 1990s. Hailing from the Kaiama community within the Kolokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, she found her niche in the game of chess and made an impactful name for herself in the field. Among her achievements, she secured an individual Gold Medal in Chess Board (One) and a Team Bronze in the former Rivers State chess competition. Her success continued as she attained a Team Gold Medal in the 1992 Sports Festival known as Bauchi ’92.

Following these triumphs, she was appointed as a Stadium Assistant in Chess by the Rivers State government. This marked the beginning of her participation in numerous open chess tournaments where she consistently achieved remarkable feats. In the mid-1990s, she participated in the now-defunct NEPA Open Championships in Lagos and secured a notable Tie Second position. Thelma, recognized as the 10th ranked chess player in Nigeria, eventually chose to shift her role to become an Organizing Secretary within the Bayelsa State Sports Council.

With her position change, Thelma’s responsibilities included the administration of Kolo/Otuoke Local Government Area. Over time, she oversaw the Chess and Scrabble Associations, earning Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals in various Sports Festivals. Thelma’s academic background boasts a degree in Mass Communication, earned from the Rivers State University of Science Technology (now Rivers State University).

Leveraging her qualifications, she was appointed as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Bayelsa State Sports Council, later renamed the Media & Publicity Department. Over the years, Thelma has held the role of Head of Media and Publicity under four Directors, and she currently serves in the same capacity under the fifth Director, focusing on Special Duties. Notably, Thelma is known for her unyielding passion for soccer, which has garnered her national recognition in the sport.

In 2012, she transitioned into active football administration. Thelma became a part of the five-person committee for Bayelsa Queens FC, initially as the committee Secretary. Later, she remained an essential part of the two-person committee, still in Bayelsa Queens FC, continuing her role as Secretary. Following this, she was appointed as the Substantial Secretary of Bayelsa United FC at the conclusion of the 2012/2013 Premier League Season.

Under her guidance, Bayelsa United FC secured a Continental Ticket to compete in the Confederation Cup of Africa (CAF) in 2014. In this competition, they faced FC Konzo of Congo Brazzaville in their initial match and returned to Nigeria with an Away Draw.

Unfortunately, Thelma departed from Bayelsa United FC in March 2014 due to excessive external interference and personal interests displayed by Board Members, which conflicted with the mandate given by the Governor at the time. Later in the same year, she became a Committee Member in the Nigeria Women Football Committee within the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), a role she still holds.

Thelma Agara stands as a trailblazer in the Bayelsa context. She made history as the first female to manage Bayelsa United FC within the state, the inaugural woman to participate in the Nigerian Premier League, and the pioneering woman to lead a male team in the Confederation Cup of Africa (CAF) on the continent. An amiable and versatile figure in sports business and administration, Thelma Agara’s contributions have left an indelible mark.

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