Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy. With approximately 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. The country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba; these ethnic groups speak over 500 different languages and are identified with a wide variety of cultures. The official language is English.
However, Cricket has been played in Nigeria since the late 19th century when the game was introduced by the British. Contacts between the administration in Lagos and their counterparts in Gold Coast (now Ghana) led to the first international match in 1904.
In the 1960’s the NCF was involved in a movement, which resulted in the formation of a sub-regional Cricket body called West Africa Cricket Federation (WACF), with headquarters in Nigeria. Later, in 1976, the WACF evolved into the West Africa Cricket Conference (WACC).
The West African Cricket Conference ceased to exist in 2002, and Nigeria became an associate member of the ICC in their own right the same year.
Nigeria’s first tournament after becoming an ICC member was the 2002 Africa Cup in Zambia. Nigeria also participated in the Africa Cricket Association Championship in 2004, and in August 2006, Nigeria took part in Division 2 of the World Cricket League African Region in Tanzania. Nigeria also emerged as winners of the North West Africa Championship in 2007 and 2008.
The Nigeria Cricket Federation received the nod to host the ICC Sub-Regional Qualifier tournament in April 2018 after delegates from the International Cricket Council embarked on a 5 days working visit to Nigeria in December 2017. During the visit, the ICC delegates Patricia Kambarami and Kuben Pilay visited facilities in Abuja National Stadium and the prestigious Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval in Lagos and also witnessed the 10th edition of the National Men’s Championship.
In March 2018, Mr. Kuben Pilay visited Nigeria for 3 days where he was engaged in a series of meetings with the N.C.F Local Organizing Committee to finalize preparations for the tournament in April. Areas of interest discussed were transportation, Security, Hotel Accommodation, Catering, Medical, Media and more. A Facility inspection was also carried out to ascertain the level of readiness by Nigeria to Host the tournament. Mr. Kuben Pilay, who addressed the Media on Friday March 2, 2018 in Lagos, said that the ICC was pleased with level of preparedness by Nigeria for the regional tournament.
According to him; “we are impressed with the level of work done so far and the level of commitment by members of the LOC”.
In response, Mr. Uyi Akpata, Vice President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation and chairman LOC, took time to explain that the rationale for hosting this competition was born out of the board’s desire to reposition the sport since assumption of office some eight months ago.
Mr Uyi Akpata further stressed that the N.C.F board under the leadership of Professor Yayaha Adam Ukwenya, would do everything humanly possible to package one of the best Cricket competitions in the history of the sport in Nigeria and a clear testament to their capabilities was the hosting of the National Male Championship in December 2017 at the Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval, Lagos as well as the maiden edition of Annual Cricket Awards for past and present Cricketers.
The Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval is currently undergoing reforms to upgrade the facility to ICC acceptable standards for the tournament.
The team Nigeria preparations for the tournament have been spot on with 1st phase of camping successfully completed and 24 players where shortlisted from an initial 33 that were invited to camp in February. The second phase of camping will resume from the 11th to 22nd of March where the final team for the tournament will be selected.
Nigeria will host Ghana, Gambia and Sirrea Leone at the Prestigious Tafawa Balewa Cricket oval Lagos from 12th to 22nd April 2018.