The Port Harcourt Golf Club has commended Heritage Bank for its support for the development of the game of golf in Nigeria.
The club made the assertion at the closing ceremony of the three-day 2014 Port Harcourt Amateur Open Golf Championship now called the Heritage Cup.
Captain of the Port Harcourt Club, Golf Section, Adokiye Ikpoki, noted that the growth of the sport had been hampered by the dearth of sponsorship and commended the bank for reviving the game through its sponsorship which has been on for two years.
His words: “We are grateful to our title sponsor, Heritage bank, for their continued generosity as they support this tournament for the second year in the series. As much as we know that this beautiful game of golf has grown in popularity and appeal globally, I can say without equivocation that the progress made in Nigeria has been quite lacklustre. We commend Heritage Bank for daring to be different in supporting this tournament, clearly working for the progress of golf in Nigeria”.
The Chairman, Organising Committee of 2014 Port Harcourt Amateur Open Golf Championship, Mr. Abiye Amakiri, also said sponsorship was a major challenge to the development of the game.
He said, “The major challenge we are facing is sponsorship. What we achieved today, we could not have achieved if we did not get sponsorship. Under the military, it was easier because most of the military administrators played golf and they could assist us directly or give us references to corporate bodies that could sponsor us.
“Today, most politicians are not golfers and it is affecting us in terms of sponsorship. Thank God that some corporate bodies have come to our rescue. That is why we thank Heritage Bank among other corporate sponsors.
“Heritage bank has been fantastic in sponsoring golf. We hope that more corporate bodies will emulate Heritage bank in sponsoring and encouraging people to play golf.”
Meanwhile, Heritage Bank has said it decided to sponsor golf tournaments in the country because of the need to preserve and promote the historical legacies of the nation.
The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, spoke in Port Harcourt at the end of the three-day 2014 Port Harcourt Amateur Open Golf Championship, now called the Heritage Cup.
Sekibo, who was represented by the Regional Director of Heritage Bank, South-south, Mr. Emeke Anene, said players of golf shared common characteristics of tenacity and drive with the bank.
He noted that the Port Harcourt Golf Club, established in 1928 has a history of being one of the oldest in the country and said there was need to re-invigorate it to keep the legacy.
He said, “For a player of golf, you must possess some characteristics: you must be tenacious and have a drive, which is part of Heritage DNA. We are tenacious people. Also, if you were here last year, they gave a history of Port Harcourt Golf Club, which is one of the oldest in Nigeria, having been established in1928. Our bank, Heritage Bank, too is about history and legacy. So golf seems to be one sport that we can identify with; and the Port Harcourt Golf Club is a legacy of the development of golf sport in the country. That is why we chose to identify with Port Harcourt Golf Club”.
He further noted that the bank was not concerned about profitability in the sponsorship of the game, but in adding value to the lives of the people.
“The fact is that for us sponsoring the tournament, it is not about profitability. It is about adding value. It is about value creation and that is what Heritage is all about. We want to invest in people; we want to invest in the people of Rivers State where we also occupy to do business. We are also going to do it next year. In fact, we are going to be here as long as the club wants us to be part of what they are doing,” he said.
Sekibo also maintained that the focus of the bank would always be on innovations and the need to grow small businesses with a view to growing the economy.
“Apart from wanting to drive business in terms of innovation, our focus has been on SMEs because we believe that is the niche if we want to grow as a nation. We want to create wealth, and in doing that, we need to start from the cradle, which SMEs represent,” he said.