We may be wondering why the heading of this piece is centered on *Hard Work* and *Grassroots* of our dear game. Cricket development is a collective responsibility for us in this unique family naturally because of what we have gained from the sport and how it has helped shaped our lives to become responsible and reputable elements in the society. We were indeed privileged as we were introduced into the sport in our formative years and our youthful exuberances were channeled in the right direction.
Have we ever imagined how this sport would benefit a late entrant with no background in the game? a person who stumbled into the sport just by doing her routine assignment as a journalist? now imagine how a single encounter changed her life so much and in such a short time that she clearly understood the phrase ‘’ To whom much is given, much is expected’’.
Ijeoma Okigbo is a sports journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and by routine disposition of her duties, Cricket found her; and the rest is history. Today, Ijeoma is on the data base of the International Cricket Council and a reoccurring decimal in the scheme of things in the Nigeria Cricket Federation. We may recall the 2020 ICC Awards of the Best Female Initiative for Africa which Nigeria won with the Girls Aspire Foundation, we also remember that Ijeoma became the first person in the Nigeria Cricket Space to be included in the ICC 100% Future Women Leadership Program batch B’ 2021 set.
Reward for hard work and dedication
On the strength of all these, this piece is centered around the reward for diligence and sacrifice. I am pleased to report that Mrs. Ijeoma Okigbo, quite deservingly, have been included to travel with the Nigeria National Women’s Team AKA ”Female Yellow Greens’’ to Botswana under the private sponsorship from the Man of Sacrifices himself, an Easy Guess, a genuine lover of the game, detribalized and passionately committed, none other than Mr. Uyi Akpata, Chairman Edo State Cricket Association.
Mr Uyi Akpata was delighted for Mrs Okigbo to be part of the team. ‘’ She has done very well for herself and for the game over the years and her commitment to the development of the Girl-Child in the remote area of Suleja in Niger State, using Cricket as a tool for social economic change is very commendable. We recognize that so does ICC and quite deservingly, she merits her inclusion for this trip.
For clarity of purpose, Ijeoma Okigbo is the Founder and CEO of Girls Aspire, a non governmental organization that is focused on Female Cricket grassroots development with the aim taking the vulnerable and disadvantaged girl child out of the streets using Cricket.
Other beneficiaries under the private sponsorship of Mr. Uyi Akpata are Miss Munikat Abu, Data Officer for the Edo State Cricket Association and Mrs Isimemen Ibodeme, Guidance and Counselling officer for the Edo State Cricket Association.