The Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, weekend, called on corporate organisations to invest in the sport of sailing in Nigeria, in order to avoid a total collapse of the sport.
“The performances showcased here today should be encouraged and the corporate world should come and invest in this sport, as it costs a lot to build champions,” the FOC said.
Gbassa made this call at the fourth edition of the FOC West Boat Race organised by the Navy Sailing Club in Navy Town, Ojo Lagos.
Represented by the Chief Staff Officer Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Habila Zakaria, the FOC reiterated the support of the Navy for the development of sailing in Nigeria.
He said: “The navy sailing club has kept faith with the development of sailing as a sport in Nigeria.
“The Navy Sailing Club remains the cradle of water sport in Nigeria and I can proudly say that in the past we used athletes from the club for major national competition.
“Without a doubt, what we have seen here today further energises us to say that the best is yet to come from the Navy Sailing Club.
“The Western Naval Command stands with you, coming to support you in the development of water sports and ensuring peaceful existence with other adjoining communities within this environment.”
He congratulated all the participants in their different categories, particularly the children, some of whom were as young as four years old.
He used the opportunity to task the trainers to encourage the young children.
“I congratulate all the athletes for their wonderful displays and sportsmanship. We have also noted that the kids we saw today have proven themselves well in the race we have witnessed.
“I believe that they will become champions in years to come. I therefore urge all members of this club to encourage them to improve their skills.”
He said that the Nigerian Navy has continued to benefit from the club as officers and men are trained there, thus reinforcing their committed to the growth of the club.
He also made reference to the need to reintroduce the Admiral FBI Porbeni race in the sailing club.
Rear Admiral FBI Porbeni is a patron of the Navy Sailing Club and one of the founding fathers. He used to sponsor an annual race at the Navy Sailing Club, but hasn’t done so for a while now.
Also speaking , the Commodore, Navy Sailing Club, Tunde Giwa-Daramola, expressed satisfaction at the skills displayed by the competitors at the games, particularly by the young children.
He was, however, disappointed that the sport of sailing has not had the kind of recognition it deserves from both the Federation and Lagos Sate.
His words:”Sailing as a sport is drowning in Nigeria. The Federation believes only in Kayaking and canoeing, while sailing is fast going extinct.”
Giwa-Daramola insisted that the only the Navy Sailing Club and the Lagos Yacht Club are sailing clubs in Nigeria, because they use boats powered by wind, while others are using power boats.
He explained further saying: “Today, we deployed two boats on water; GP14, which is powered by 2 or 3 people, and it is a team sport, while the Laser boat is powered by only one person. So you fight against nature to get to sail through.”
On the focus of the club, Giwa-Daramola said they stay very committed to grooming very young children and making them great champions over time.
“We catch them young so that they get familiar with water. When they are familiar with water, we then introduce them to the sports they can do. We had as young as 3 years old children here today and their performances were very impressive.
“But, I think a high point for us today, is the young officer who we trained and he is the overall winner in the race today. He is set for an international competition in sailing, in India,” the Sailing Club Commodore said.