The International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup is scheduled to take place from the 5th of October to 19th of November this year and as part of global preparation towards the tournament, her most priced asset has been touring the globe across all continents of the world. For this year’s event, Cricket made history and India as a country to be more specific, shocked the world to become the first sport and country to launch the world cup trophy into space and landed it safely on the south pole of the moon, a feat that has never been achieved in the history of humanity.
Since then, the trophy has made its journey through the various continents of the world with specific countries selected to host. In any sport, one of the most efficient ways to promote the game is to have a trophy tour across the world which gives the fans an opportunity to have a first-hand experience with the trophy and also increase the popularity of the game.
For Africa, only 3 countries were given this huge honor and privileged to host the World Cup trophy and for the second consecutive time, the ICC chose Nigeria as a perfect destination. This comes under the steam of the giant strides and progress made by the Nigeria Cricket Federation in the overall growth and development of the game in Nigeria over the last 4 years.
The ICC concept for this year’s trophy tour to Africa was an opportunity to showcase the continent’s rich diverse cultural and traditional heritage. In Nigeria, the cities of Abuja and Lagos were chosen for this exhibition and as the country with the most diverse culture and tradition in Africa, we nailed it.
NIGERIA TOUR (ABUJA)
The trophy arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on the 29th of August to the warm welcome of the management of the NCF, members of the diplomatic corp, officials from the Federal Ministry of Sports development, fans from the cricket community, partners Nissan and beautiful ladies dressed in various cultural attires, representing various tribes in the country.
As part of ICC’s mandate to integrate the Africa culture to the trophy tour, the Zuma Rock stands as the most fascinating historic and cultural representation closest to Abuja, hence the visit and photo sessions with the rock. The trophy was carted through the golf course of the Zuma Rock Resort, through a mini bridge over a stream and to the foot of the rock captivating images were taken with ladies dressed in various tribal attires to represent the cultural diversity in Nigeria. Photo sessions also included the President and Vice President of the Federation Mr. Uyi Akpata and Mr. Wale Obalola, Members of the Asian communities who had come to wait for the arrival of the trophy and other fans.
From the Zuma rock, the trophy made its 40km journey back into the Abuja city to the indoor sports hall of the MKO Abiola National Stadium where fans, children, members and representatives of the diplomatic corps, senior government officials were waiting to receive the trophy. Cheers of excitement across the hall as the trophy was unveiled and placed on the stands with visitors scrambling to get glimpses from their respective seats. Soon after the cheers weathered down, the audience were thrilled with a ‘’Unity Dance’’ cultural troupe where the unity in diversity of Nigeria was demonstrated through dance and music. A huge noise erupted in the hall to interrupt the music with everyone’s gaze fixed at the entrance of the hall and soon the noise doubled as the Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh made his entry to the hall, welcomed by the President and Board members of the Nigeria Cricket Federation.
Highlight of the event was when the trophy was received by the Honorable Minister of Sports development senator John Enoh on behalf of the government of Nigeria. The Minister expressed his delight at the opportunity given to Nigeria to host the trophy 2 consecutive times and the significance in ensuring that the game continues to develop across the nooks and cranny of the country. Senator John Enoh promised to use his office to continue to support the growth of Cricket in the country from grassroots development through the elite system and infrastructure development. He expressed his appreciation to the ICC for considering Nigeria as a destination to host this prestigious event, he concluded.
Other activities continued for the day with members of the diplomatic corp and sponsors given the opportunity to make remarks and speeches as they addressed the Board members of the NCF and the audience. Everyone has the opportunity to have photo session with the trophy to the excitement of all.
CITY GATE TWIN PEAKS
The trophy concluded its Abuja tour with a visit to the city gate twin peaks, right in the heart of town where virtually the entire city of Abuja is visible. Beautiful scenes and photographs concluded the day’s proceedings.
VISIT TO THE CITY OF LAGOS
The team headed for Lagos the next day as earlier planned in the scheduled to the Tafawa Balewa Square Cricket Oval, where the party had started much earlier and a cricket carnival ongoing with over 400 kids having fun, guests all seated while waiting for the trophy and a sweet combination of traditional dances and conventional music in the air.
Loud cheers greeted the arrival of the trophy to the venue and the dance troupe escorted it to its place of display. Fans could not contain their excitement as everyone scrambled to get a glance at the silverware. senior officials from the ICC who were also on a working visit to Nigeria, soon arrived to the spectacle of the dance troops and the usual warm welcome of Nigerians. Familiar faces included the ICC Development Manager, William Glenwright, ICC Africa Regional Development Manager, Patricia Kambarami, Edward Khoza from Cricket South Africa and Rohit Poddar, ICC Member services.
Fans were given the opportunity to have photographs with the trophy at intervals with the kids having different sessions, the VIP’s had their moments as well as the dance troupes, national team players, club owners and CEO’s, members of the diplomatic Corp etc.
The day’s activities ended with a cocktail party at the Nissan Warehouse in Vitoria Island, where the ICC Officials, Members of the NCF Board, sponsors and potential sponsors all had the opportunity to fraternize and discuss possibilities of improving and sustaining the development of Cricket in Nigeria. Special guest at the function, representing the Governor of Lagos State, His excellency Babajide Sanwolu, was the director of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Rohit Poddar
Also present at the event were ex Nigeria international, members of the Lagos State Cricket Association, captains of industries, Government officials and more. Everyone had personal and group photograph with the trophy. There were final display of traditional dances and soft music to bring the occasion to a delightful end.
MUSA EHIZOJE BODIE
PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
NIGERIA CRICKET FEDERATION