It was an intense day of competitive water sports among contestants from different Divisions of the Nigerian Army at the Jabi Lake, Abuja penultimate Friday.
Both male and female contestants went neck and neck for the trophy in the various sports which included kayaking, open water swimming, canoeing and the First Open Water Sports Boat Race done in collaboration with the Navy Sailing Club, among others. The event was part of the 16th NAFEST which last held in Kaduna in 2009.
Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, said there was need for the various levels of governments, industrialists and corporate organisations to invest in the development of sports.
He said who said more resources should be devoted to develop sports, which would in turn, develop the youth, also said massive investment in sports development will no doubt ensure that the youths are productively engaged.
“This, however, will save the country from the cycle of committing huge resources to combat security challenges arising from failure to adequately invest in the youth,” Dalung said.
The Minister who described the aquatic sports competition as a history-making one, said: “It is historic because this is the first time the Nigerian Army has ventured into water sports. The demonstration of the skills and talents here today attests to the fact that there are hidden talents that the military has ‘denied’ us. He congratulated the Nigerian Army for coming up with the sporting events and also commended the determination displayed by the leadership in encouraging the training of athletes who within 48 hours were able to participate at the competition.
The aquatic sports were introduced into NAFEST by Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai who said, “we have amphibious units in the army. We have been training in basic amphibious and watermanship aspects but haven’t developed the sporting aspects in this regard.”
He said: “Getting familiar with water bodies is also key with developing confidence. Our troops are deployed to the Lake Chad, Rivers Niger and Benue areas and once we have such sports, we encourage and help them acquire the basic skills in the event of their being deployed for such amphibious operations be rest assured they’ll perform very well.”
Buratai also said: “Let them remain steadfast and take this sport very seriously, not just for the benefit of the Army but also for the nation and areas of competitive sports globally.”
Moses Orugbani one of the contestants who came second in the 100 metres kayaking event and has contested in other international kayaking competitions said he was very happy to participate in the competition because, “it was an opportunity to let Nigerians know that such a sport exists and that Nigerians also know how to engage in it.”
Star participant of the day was eight-year-old Divine Momoh who had a solo swimming outing and received a medal for being a part of the competition.
Clinching the overall winning trophies were 3 Division Jos, 82 Division Enugu and 81 Division Lagos.