This 1st May it was incredible to see 135 people gather together at Lockleaze Sports Centre in memory of Olisa Odukwe. Raising £807.95 for mental health charity Mind, 16 teams took to the pitch to play the sport at which Olisa was notably so talented.
The tournament which consisted of 38 games and lasted for an intense 7 hours and 44 minutes saw teams from across Bristol come together: representatives from Bristol University's Afro Caribbean Society, the football community ecosystem MOB and of course, The University of Bristol Association Men's Football Club (UBAFC) all showed out to celebrate Olisa's legacy on the pitch.
The spirit at the tournament was amazing. It was brilliant to see Cabin Crew FC all victorious on the pitch taking home the Olisa Odukwe Cup and runners up Sticky Vicky, The Olisa Odukwe Salver. The tournament also recognised those who have contributed to the UBAFC community. Indeed, one of the event highlights was seeing the presentation of The Olisa Odukwe Clubman Award.
As explained by UBAFC, The Olisa Odukwe Clubman Award is awarded 'in recognition of a current UBAFC member who has been a role model across the season, exhibited commitment to the club, and has consistently been a positive influence on his peers.' The club expanded on the significance of this award: 'Olisa was universally loved, selfless and caring - the positive impact he had on everyone at UBAFC and beyond is reflected in this award'.
This year there were two winners: Gautam Vyas and Liam Peters. Whilst Vyas was recognised for all of his contributions as Equality and Welfare Secretary at the club, Peters was celebrated for his positivity and dedication, having never missed a training session.
Former captain of UBAFC, friend of Olisa and one of the key organisers of the tournament Will Straw said, 'the timing of the tournament is exactly a year on since we lost Olisa, which adds to its significance and brings mixed emotions. For those of us who knew Olisa, this will always be an incredibly tough date. Being together at this time however, to remember Olisa and his positivity on the football pitch, feels like a good way to process the day and mark his legacy moving forwards. Doing something that Olisa was incredibly good at - a sport which so many of use shared good memories playing with him - represents a way that we believe we can keep Olisa's memory, character and personality alive'.
In May 2023 we shall see the tournament return, becoming an annual event. It will be great to see it keep growing, preserving the memory of Olisa.
An Instagram account @TheOlisaOdukweTournament has been set up by the tournament's organisers to remember Olisa and communicate the tournament's purpose and details. If you would like to be involved in the next edition of the tournament or wish to see how the inaugural edition unfolded, feel free to follow the account.