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FOC West Boat Race: Beyond race, building future athletes

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The Navy Sailing Club, Ojo, has proved not only to be a club for social activities, but an avenue for budding athletes to showcase their talents alongside old athletes to become professionals representing the country.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 2019 Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Command Boat Race held on Nov. 3 at the club’s waterfront with no fewer than 50 participants.

The participants who varied from ages eight years to 12 years, 13 years to 16 years, 17 years and 18 years, men and women, featured in open water swimming, kayak and boat race.

Some of the participants praised the FOC, saying that the annual event spurred their interest in becoming world-class athletes.

Mariam Braimah, who took part in the 13 years to 16 years category, told NAN that she knew she was talented in  water sports.

She added that she wanted to become a professional kayaker in future.

“I placed second at the competition not because my father is the Commodore of the club. I have always liked water sports; so, when the opportunity came, I felt I should try.

“Before the annual boat race, I never had the opportunity to participate in water sports but I loved it. I want to become a professional,” she said.

She also thanked the FOC for making her dream a reality, saying that a journey to becoming a professional started with the competition.

Khadija Aminu who emerged first in the 13 years to 16 years category said that winning the competition was an indication that she could excel outside the club.

She said that she would continue to work on herself become a world-class.

“It felt great being the first, though I need to sharpen my skills by coming to for training regularly so that by the 2020 FOC competition, I will be able to compete in the women category.

“I am hoping to represent Nigeria in future Olympics and at other international competitions. This competition taught me that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to,” she said.

Aminu, who thanked the FOC and her parents for encouraging her, said that she was grateful that the competition was organised.

“I am using this medium to thank the FOC; this competition means a lot to me. My parents have also been supporting my interest in Kayak, they even encouraged me to come for training,” she said.

Also Moses Ibegberi-Orugbani, a professional Kayaker who clinched first position in the men’s category, said that the competition was beneficial as it afforded both the young and the old an opportunity to showcase their talents.

He also hailed the Navy Sailing Club for organising competitions quarterly to bring out the best from athletes.

He told NAN that Nigeria was blessed with talents.

Meanwhile, Captain Mutaru Braimah, the Commodore, Navy Sailing club, said that the club always looked forward to sailing activities, adding that the club was honoured to have the support of the FOC, Western Naval Command.

“It is like a ritual for us as sailors, we look forward to sailing activities, our vision is to ensure that once in a quarter, we have activities to show what we have been doing.

“We are humbled and honoured that the last four to five years, the FOC, Western Naval Command, made it a duty to  hold the annual boat race in our club.

“The incumbent FOC, on assumption of office, came around during the Admiral Jonah Boat Race; the  senior officer has always obliged us anytime issues of sailing club are tabled, ” he said.

NAN reports that the club was established in 1987.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Ijeoma Popoola

© 2019 NNN NEWS NIGERIA. EDITOR@NNN.COM.NG