***As Daji Pledges Unalloyed Navy Support for Water Sports

By Sandra Chukwunyere

The Nigerian Navy Will not relent in efforts at promoting Water sports as a veritable  avenue to strengthen military /civilian coorporation, talent hunt for the nations sports ministry and  the overall  advancement of Navy operations in the country.
 The Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command , Rear Admiral Oladele Daji stated this at the third edition of the Open Boat Race competition by the Navy Sailing Club, in Ojo, Lagos.
Rear Admiral Daji stated that although the sailing club is not a core Naval unit, the force would continue to promote and support it like other corporate organizations and good spirited individuals, to make sure that the young talents are harvested and groomed in the interest of national peace and sports development.
According to Daji, “The sailing is at the heart of Navy because, without a good sailing culture, it will be very difficult to perform our tasks.  Not only that, at the sailing club, we are trying to catch them young. We saw as little children, some about three years old, performing different water sports 
“We give credit to the founding fathers of this club because it has not only enhanced professionalism among personnel, but also enhanced civilian/ military cooperation. This club has also produced champions in the various water sports at the national and international levels for Nigeria.
“So, we must commend the Founding Fathers. What we are doing today is to encourage the club, and build on the foundation of the founding fathers and also support the present executive of the club to ensure that  water sports in general is given the pride of place that it deserves”.
Responding on the appeal by the Club for more boats to replace existing old and obsolete ones that are no longer competitive enough, Rear Admiral Daji promised to deliver the message to the Chief of Naval staff, but asked the club managers not to relent in their efforts at approaching corporate bodies and wealthy individuals in the area for assistance.
In a remark, the First Commodore of the Club   Admiral Andrew Okoja, who was a guest of Honour ,said that he was happy that the club has lived up to the purpose for which it was founded in 1985.
While calling on well meaning Nigerians  to support the club ,Admiral Okoja stated that water sports should promoted and funded, as a way of boosting the nation’s economy which is dependent on Maritime.
  His words ” This Sailing club was founded in 1985. Some Naval Officers came together and founded it , first of all to bring social life to this area and secondly to propagate sailing culture in Nigeria.
“We have found out that 90% of our economy depends on maritime.  So Nigeria needs a sailing club as this to be running activities like sailing, yatching, boating and  swimming that will gradually help to spread the culture of marine life in the society.
That was the reason behind it and that was why the membership is open to both Naval people and civilians in this Community”.
One of the founders of the club, Retired Rear Admiral Godwin Ombo, said that with membership now including children and youths who are tomorrow’s leaders and some members  representing the nation at major international sporting events , the sailing club has been a success story.
” The journey of a thousand miles, they say, starts with a step. Today, we have children at the club. Some of them , have gone to represent Nigeria in water sports in the last few years. We never dreamt of that when we started”.
Earlier in an address, the Sailing Club Commander , Commodore Tunde Daramola , who expressed display that the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down activities of the club, noted that series of competitions were being lined up to properly prepare the athletes to represent the country at future international sporting events.
Mr. Daramola seized the opportunity to call on the Chief of Naval staff for assistance  in the areas of providing new boats for the club.
“My athletes are tired of staying at home. We want to bring them to competitive edge and we have to beg people.  
” I have been on my knees asking corporate bodies to support us. I am begging the Navy to give us more boats and they are trying to answer us, but I still begging them to do that.
“We have seen from five years old to twenty years old , doing exploit in various water sports. These are the people that caught my imagination. 
“We have to catch them young. We thought them how to swim, yatch, canoe and all other water sports. And we are going to teach them how to be competitive. The medals from water sports are usually the highest during sporting events and with the athletes, Nigeria is going to catch up.  That’s why we are here.

The event attracted spectators from far and near, while athletes who did well were rewarded with gift items.
Some prominent Nigerians including Traditional rulers in an around Ojo, where the Navy town is located, were also attended the event in the spirit of the cordial military/civilian cooperation that exist in the area.

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