The Nigeria Cricket season has opened with the victory at the West Africa Trophy – Uyi Akpata

The President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, Mr. Uyi Akpata has declared that the Nigeria Cricket Season has opened with the victory of the Senior Men’s Team at the just concluded West Africa T20 Trophy held in Lagos from 3rd to 16th of October 2023.

Teams Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and the host Nigeria were the four countries that took part in the event that witnessed three T20 round-robin games with Nigeria merging as the overall winner, after defeating Rwanda in the finals. This 20-game tournament provided an opportunity for each of the teams to play a minimum of ten matches and to test themselves on the challenges that come with game management and strategies.

The Cricket season in Nigeria is usually the time we witness many cricket activities in the nation due to the favorable weather conditions. In line with the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) annual calendar, the months of October every year through April the following year, usually fall into the dry season in the country and the Federation uses the window to have a lot of outdoor cricket activities.

According to the General Manager of NCF, Emeka Igwilo, NCF Management has already mapped out a lot of domestic activities that will be held across the country during the season. Many senior and junior competitions (for both genders) will be witnessed as a way of increasing the playing capacity of the teams. At the last Board meeting held during the ICC Men’s Cricket Trophy Tour in August 2023, the NCF Board agreed to sustain the level of cricket development and give good attention to the Modified games as a way of spreading the game to all nooks and crannies of the country.

The Federation is also making deliberate efforts to partner with and support the regions, States, and Cricket organizations to increase the volume of competitive cricket across the country. Apart from the Modified games (like Soft Ball Cricket, Criio, Tennis Cricket, etc), which give people the opportunity to play anywhere and any place, the Federation will continue to support the regions to ensure there is an increase in their activities as a way of building a sustainable hub system that will ensure even and rapid growth of the noble game. Development Targets have also been set for all the regions through the NCF quarterly grants as a way of measuring their commitment to the key strategic objectives of NCF. Through the strategic implementation of Cricket activities in Nigeria, the Federation has won the ICC (International Cricket Council) Global awards for the years 2021 and 2022.

The Cricket Season is generally a huge moment when States, Club activities, and other cricket development across the country are at their peak. Among the events that are expected to commence across the country include the Cricket Club of Abuja (CCA) in Abuja, The Cricket Committee Club (CCC) League in Lagos, the Port Harcourt League, The South East League (Chuma Anosike Cup), The Edo League, The Arewa League in Kaduna, Ibadan Cricket League, Lagos Female League, South-South Female League, Abinu Kondoti event, Omezue Ezi Okoro cup, Primary and Secondary schools championships and so forth. The Millennium Premier League organized by the Millennium Cricket Club of Abuja League is ready to bowl in Abuja while the Helping Hand Consult is ready to run the 2nd edition of the Abuja Women’s Cricket Invitational championship at the Cricket Ovals of the Package ‘B’ MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

The plans for the National Men’s and Women’s Championships are activated, while the National U17 Cricket event powered by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) setups are already being finetuned.

A lot of Education and training programs will be witnessed to build the capacity of coaches, umpires, scorers, curators, and indeed everyone involved in the game. The capacity-building curriculum will target to educate the cricketers on Game Management skills, Coaching dynamics, Mastering Game Strategies, understanding, and building a strong winning mentality. In all the approaches, deliberate approaches will be tailored towards the 100% inclusivity of the women, in line with the vision of ICC. With the attraction of many indigenous and foreign companies in the ever-rising Nigeria Cricket market, intense education will also be anchored towards educating the organizers, teams, and managers of the game on the Growth Prospects, protection of the players, anti-corruption codes, Safeguarding, etc.

The NCF Board meeting and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is expected to be held in the first week of November 2023, will unfold a lot of expectations for the coming years. Apart from the equipment approved by the Board and distributed to all the states that took part in the just concluded National Youth Games, Asaba 2023, the Board has also made additional approval to procure more equipment for the development of the game in the regions. All the efforts are towards achieving the Federation’s target of attracting over 500,000 new entrants to the game annually.

At the International level and before the end of the year, Nigeria’s Men’s and Women’s teams are expected to compete in the ICC T20 Men’s and Women’s World Cup Africa Qualifiers in Namibia and Uganda respectively.

The first Quarter of 2024 will also afford the country the chance to host the 4th NCF Women’s Invitational, before flying the national flags at the All-African Games to be held in Accra- Ghana, in March 2024. The 2024 All-Africa Games in Ghana will be the first time Cricket will be featuring in the continental event and NCF is happy to be providing every necessary technical support to Ghana Cricket Association to ensure the Achimota pitches are ready to play.