1 The Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi says physical fitness remains the cornerstone of troops combat readiness in contending with myriads of security challenges confronting the country.
4 The minister said the inter-service sports competition, organised by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was designed to provide the platform for the services to interact with one another towards sustaining the good relationship built and enjoyed over the years.
5 According to him, the importance of physical fitness to an armed forces such as ours cannot be over emphasised, particularly at this time that Nigeria is contending with a myriad of security challenges.
6 “It is physically and mentally fit personnel that make the difference in combat operations.
7 “These physically and mentally fit personnel are able to endure tough weather and terrain conditions and other stressful harsh battle conditions.
8 “Physical fitness therefore remains the cornerstone of troops combat readiness as it keeps Service Personnel in top physical state that enable them carryout and achieve assigned tasks.
9 “On the whole, physical fitness is the basis for service personnel’s good health and physical wellbeing,” he added.
10 Magashi said the current security challenges confronting the nation were enormous and thus, calls for synergy and cooperation among the three services.
11 He said that avenues such as sports competition, needed to be continuously created to facilitate mutual interaction amongst troops.
12 The minister commended the troops for their efforts and sacrifices at tackling the security challenges as well as the DHQ for organising the sports competition.
13 He charged the participating athletes to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and strive to put in optimal performance towards winning laurels for their various services.
14 “Furthermore, let fair play be your watchword as you keep in focus, the objective for the organisation of this sports fiesta.
15 “I will not end my remarks without assuring you all of the unflinching commitment of the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, at ensuring the best of welfare and working conditions for our armed forces personnel.
16 “He appreciates the huge efforts and great sacrifices you all are making to keep our dear country, Nigeria safe and prosperous,” he added.
17 The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the event was aimed at strengthening the ties among troops, instilling discipline and readiness to serve a common cause in the armed forces.
18 Irabor, who was represented by Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, said that friendly sporting competition helps in fostering desired working relationship and promoting synergy among members of the armed forces.
19 This, according to him, is because fitness of the body and contentment of mind come more readily in the free atmosphere of games.
20 “More so, sports provide a basis for team work that is needed for troops to be able to function with a cohesion that is often called upon both during peacetime military engagements and combat operations.
21 “As we all know, warfare is a grueling experience and the ability to advance long distances with full combat gear through rugged terrains and to fight effectively requires strength, agility and stamina from troops.
22 “This can only be conditioned through sports and effective physical fitness training.
23 “As such, team sports have been found to provide both physiological and psychological benefits that reduce stress, illness and injuries, especially during operations.
24 “Accordingly, physical fitness and mental alertness of personnel have become key considerations for the armed forces to meet increasing demands of current and emerging threats,” he said.
25 Irabor said the military had made giant strides in encouraging personnel and their families to always engage in sports through organised events like half marathon, children sports clinic and various sports championships.
26 The CDS said the competitions were aimed at promoting synergy and cooperation between the AFN and other security agencies, adding that it had also encouraged troops to build fitness and maintain combat readiness.
27 He said that several talents discovered from competitions of this nature were representing the country in different international sporting events and recording exploits.
28 According to him, the Cross Country Team to represent Nigeria in the 58th World Military Cross Country Competition slated to hold at Beja, Portugal in October, would be selected from the Inter-Service Sports Competition.
30 They will compete for laurels in Basketball, Cross-Country, Football, Taekwondo and Volleyball.