By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, Nigeria

The Nigeria Cricket Federation, NCF, has mapped government schools for easy inclusion of cricket. This according to the President of Nigeria Cricket Federation, Prof. Yahaya Ukwenya is to ensure that schools include cricket into their sports regiment.

“We have done school mapping which meant that on the state by state basis, the state-owned schools and federal government-owned schools, we have been mapping them out with the help of officials from the Federal Ministry of Education and also some state Ministries of Education. The other thing that we have been doing is running seminars. During this COVID-19 period, we have had a number of sensitization seminars. It started as a national seminar, then we have gone through three zones now; South-South, recently we held a sensitization program with representatives from South West, and North Central. I believe very soon, we will be working with North West and the South East. These seminars are to get everyone involved to understand how the process is going to work. In addition to that, the key issue is to have equipment that is easy for the school students to use which will be cost-effective and safe. We are collaborating with companies in India to produce cost-effective equipment. We are waiting for the first set of shipments which is about a thousand sets. A set contains a number of bats, balls, and wickets that we can use. We have already tested it and the children love it. We felt that this is the best way to attract children to the game.

Nigeria’s flag was hoisted for the first time at the last edition of the International Cricket Council, ICC U19 World Cup in South Africa. That was the first Cricket World Cup that Nigeria will be taking part in across all levels.
Prof. Ukwenya said that the Federation is working towards financing their school sports project with the help of ICC.

“The other area that we are working on is on financing the project. We planned that from our budget, we should be able to provide some of the funding. In addition to that, we have approached the International Cricket Council, ICC, to support us with a grant and I could remember that at the beginning, there were about 27 to 30 countries that applied. Nigeria was one of the seven countries that were shortlisted for the final interview before COVID-19 started. We are still hopeful that we will succeed with the interview. Support coming from ICC will make it easier for us to run this program because one of the key problems of school sports in Nigeria is the funding.” He concluded.

The after-effects of Nigeria’s participation at the 2020 ICC U19 World Cup is reaping fruits with the Federation’s move which is aimed at taking cricket across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

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