By Patrick Omorodion
Chief Giandomenico Massari is Italian-born but now a naturalised Nigerian and his passion for cycling is as strong as steel. He first started as Vice Chairman of the Rivers state Cycling Association from where he rose to become the Vice President of the Cycling Federation of Nigeria, CFN. He was the pillar of cycling in Rivers state and extended his generosity to the body of cycling referees known as Cycling Commissaires Association.
He sponsored some refresher courses for the cycling referees to assist them update their knowledge of the sport in order to help them rub shoulders with the best in the continent nay the world.
His association with Rivers state shot the state into reckoning as one of the power houses of the sport in the country, giving Edo, Delta, Oyo, Plateau and Borno a run for their money.
The impact he was making with cycling in Rivers state may have attracted the Interest of the lovers of the sport as well as officials of the sports Ministry who worked to see that he emerged the President of the National body.
And just one year in the saddle as President of the Federation, athletes and officials are now thanking God for the emergence of Chief Massari as the new helmsman of the Federation.
He has quickly identified the fact that waiting on the government to provide the fund needed to keep the Federation working is an exercise in futiliy and has therefore embarked on sponsorship drive using his contacts in the corporate world for athletes to be able to attend international competitions and for the Federation to be able to organise some locally to keep cyclists busy.
Within one year as president of the Cycling Federation, Chief Massari has ensured that Nigerian cyclists, starved of competitions prior to his coming on board, now attend competitions within the continent and even in Europe.
Both the sport’s world governing body, the International Cycling Union, UCI and its African affiliate, the Confederation of African Cycling, CAC, knowing the strength of Nigeria and the potential of her athletes are now eager to assist the country realise her dream of taking her position in Africa and the world.
Believing that for Nigerian athletes to be able to compete favourably with their counterparts in Africa and the world, Chief Massari has taken it as a challenge for the CFN Board to develop the manpower needed to achieve the dream.
Thus, a couple of months back, the CFN organised a course for the coaches to help them update their knowledge of the new rules governing the sport and the techniques needed by athletes.
This was also extended to the referees of the sport known as Commissaires who had a 3-day refresher course in Abuja before the commencement of the ongoing National Sports Festival.
He told the Commissaires to try and attend courses regularly to upgrade themselves as that was the only way they can attain higher heights in officiating. He promised to assist in this regard by bringing in UCI resource persons to Nigeria so that more Nigerians can be certificated as international Commissaires.
Already one of Nigeria’s best technical hands in the sport, Bashir Mohammed, currently the Technical Director of the CFN was within this period elected into Executive Committee of CAC and is the Vice President of the Technical Commission and Massari has assured that many more will be so recognized.
One aspect of Massari’s revolution which has elicited excitement is his promise to take the sport to the grassroots by ensuring that cycling activites are taken to all the six geo political zones of the country. He promised that he and his Board may have to assist state associations to talk to their state Governors on why cycling should be encouraged in their various States.
Massari knows that taking Nigerian cycling to the next level would not be an easy task and has therefore called on stakeholders to join hands with him to achieve the lofty dreams.
Mohammed, who also serves as the Executive Secretary of the Borno state Sports Commission has called on cycling stakeholders to “join hands with Massari because he alone cannot do it”, stressing that, “ if we all play our parts, cycling will become a household name in Nigeria”.