The cloudless sky coupled with the well-lit environment of the Lagos Country Club on this particular evening beckons one to relaxation as the members relate with each other without tension.
Security is another thing they need not worry about as every visitor to the club, myself inclusive, was strictly scrutinised before gaining entrance. With bars well stocked up and choice of food and snacks, what to eat and drink is no problem. Founded August 3, 1949, the Lagos Country Club boasts of about 13million members with over 10 different sections of games and other recreational sections to cater for members and families’ needs.
Otunba Wale Okesola; an entrepreneur and employer of labour, who is also the Chairman of the Table Tennis Section of the club, in this interview with Monica Taiwo, speaks on the various facilities offered by the club, membership criteria and the importance of recreation. Excerpts.
You must be very good at table tennis before you can think of leading the section
I have a passion for the game, I play it and I play it well.
What does it take to be the chairman of the Table Tennis section?
By the rules and by laws of the section, you must be a member of the Lagos Country Club.
What does the membership of the Lagos Country Club entail?
It takes a good social standing, you must be a man or woman of impeccable character.
I have not seen many women here since you stated that the club is for both men and women?
Today is Monday, if you want to see our women the best day for that will be Saturday or Sunday including our children. Our club is actually a family club; if you want to join, you must do so with your wife and children.
Our children are an integral part of the club, because as they grow, or should I say when they become of age; 21, they automatically upgrade to become members of the club.
Apart from the table tennis section, how many other sections do you have in the entire club?
We have 10 sections in all; tennis, snooker/billiards, swimming, table tennis, darts, scrabble, taekwondo/aerobics; this is where you find most of our women. Then we have squash and other games. The other games section is for members who due to age or other health reasons cannot engage in physical activities, while those who enjoy working out and burning fats also enjoy doing so with the facilities in different sections available to suit different needs.
Let me stress here that table tennis is one of the several sections of the club and unarguably the best and the most active section. Apart from those who are just learning the game, a lot of our members have developed passion for the game and they have the opportunity to play it under the very best environment.
For the leadership; all you need is to offer yourself. Leadership everywhere is a sacrifice. You don’t get nominated for it. Your willingness to serve is all that is required. You also must have been a member of the Lagos Country Club for five years.
How would you rate an average Nigerian’s mentality to recreation?
Our orientation in this part of the world is all about work and no play. Recreation is important and we must take out time to go on holidays, to relax and recreate; this should be part of our day to day plan. In other parts of the world, people plan for holidays, but we don’t get to do that here.
It is important for us to make out time for ourselves after running around all day to make money. What is the essence of the money you make when eventually you won’t be able to enjoy it? This situation can come up if you don’t relax. This is why we at the Lagos Country Club take time to relax with our friends at the club, sociailise and do a little bit of networking if necessary.
Like I mentioned earlier, we have two categories of members, those who want to play games and burn fats and those who just come around to socialise. The Lagos Country Club membership is about 13million and we have capacity and facilities to cater for all; even our invited friends.
If you are to advise the average man on the advantages of recreation, what would that be?
It has been proven medically that our body is not an engine and should not be taken and treated as one. We need to exercise daily and take care of ourselves to keep our body going.
People should take exercises seriously. When you exercise your limbs, hands, legs and other parts of your body, you keep toxins out of your system. Accumulated toxins is dangerous for our system, by sweating out, we get all these out of our system. Other diseases like high blood pressure, stroke will be kicked out.
Do you know that a lot of people who walk about are like time bombs that are ready to explode and if we are able to see what we carry about, you will advise without thinking twice that a man or woman should slow down?
Also in this austere times and recession, we must learn to relax and take things easy. Carrying the whole burden on your shoulder will not solve anything. If you relax, recreate and fellowship with others, solutions will surely come. Those who say two heads are better than one means business.
The Yuletide is here, does your club have any programmes lined up?
Christmas is a season we all look forward to. In about a week or two from now, the whole place including the table tennis section of the club will wear a new look, with Christmas tree and decorations everywhere. Both Christians and Muslims in the club celebrate this season together, just as we celebrate other festivals.
Socially, we have many events lined up; one of such is the table tennis competition that I recently declared opened; the Chairman’s Table Tennis Tournament. Other sections of the club have their own activities too.
We however, have our grand finale celebration with our annual dance which comes up on the last Friday in January. We always have King Sunny Ade at the band. It is always a day set aside to honour all those who have served in the club at certain times.