The 2022 Ships & Ports Maritime Cup Competition kicked off in grand style in Lagos on Tuesday with eight teams vying for the coveted trophy.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, represented by the General Manager Human Resources, Mr. Ahmad M. Umar, formally kicked off the competition.
The NPA Managing Director was supported in kicking off the tournament by the Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup; Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Barrister (Mrs.) Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi and representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Navy Capt. Christian Akokota.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Bello-Koko assured the maritime community of his support for sporting activities, even as he commended Ships & Ports Communication Company, the organisers of the annual tournament, for creating the platform for competitive sporting activities in the industry.
“It gladdens my heart to see young men file out today. We appreciate the organisers of this event for doing it every single year.
“I wish everyone good luck, but there is no work without hard work, as you must have prepared yourselves very well for this competition,” he said.
The NPA boss encouraged employees in the maritime industry to engage in sporting activities to improve their health and wellbeing.
STOAN Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, noted that the competition was good for industry operators’ mental health.
Haastrup commended Ships & Ports for keeping the competition alive, despite the challenging times, particularly with regards to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is really important for our mental health, it instills unity within the sector. We are a family – everyone in the shipping sector,his championship has come to stay. I say a big thank you to the organisers and I wish everyone best of luck,” Princess Haastrup, who is also the CEO of ENL Consrtium, said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, said she was impressed by the large turnout at the opening ceremony.
“This is a competition, so there will be losers and winners. However, you are all winners because you will make new friends and this is what the Maritime Cup is doing in the industry. Good luck and may the best team win,” she said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Ships & Ports, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, said that the Maritime Cup competition was set up to foster healthy living and promote recreation in the maritime industry.
Akinola said the competition is in its 12th edition.
“This competition is about bringing together everybody in the maritime industry under convivial atmosphere, away from the serious discussions that we are all used to in seminars and conferences.
“Apart from bringing the industry together, it encourages recreation and of course, we know the importance of sports and exercise in healthy living. This is what the tournament is all about,” he said.
He noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual competition did not hold in 2020 and 2021.
In the opening match of the tournament, defending champions ENL Consortium defeated Higher Pacific International 4-1.
HPI opened scoring through Gozie Ebule in the 38th minute of the first half, but ENL equalized two minutes later through its top striker Paul Uchechi.
Joseph John scored for ENL in the 42nd and 85th minute while Uche Nkwoji sealed ENL’s victory with a fourth goal in the 87th minute.
The Maritime Cup Football Competition was created by Ships & Ports in 2009 to encourage recreation and camaraderie among employees of government agencies, private sector operators, and regulators in the maritime industry.
Eight teams namely Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), ENL Consortium, Josepdam Port Services (JPS), Nigerian Navy, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Higher Pacific International (HPI) and Dynesty Ocean Shipping are competing in the tournament this year.
NPA, Josepdam, NAGAFF and Dynasty are playing in Group A while defending champions ENL Consortium, Customs, Navy and HPI will compete in Group B.
Winners of the Maritime Cup since its inception are the Nigerian Navy (2009), Micura Stevedoring Services (2010), Nigeria Customs Service (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2017), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (2014), Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (2015), Nigerian Ports Authority (2018) and ENL Consortium Nigeria Limited (2019).