The Board of the Nigeria Cricket Federation hosted players of Nigeria’s Under 19 Cricket Team to a welcome reception in Lagos following their historic participation at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
The NCF board also hinted at some of the gains of the maiden World Cup appearance which it said included strategic partnerships with top Cricketing nations at the event.
Uyi Akpata, the Vice president of the Federation said that the World Cup appearance had helped the country forge developmental partnerships with some of the best Cricket developing nations in the world which he notes will also boost the NCF’s grassroots agenda.
“The Under 19 World Cup in South Africa is very fruitful for us and we are judging our achievement by the useful partnerships we have formed with other top nations who see value in us and potentials in the players we paraded, among other positives,” Akpata said.
He hinted that both the West Indies and Australia who were Nigeria’s group opponents at the World Cup had offered some assistance to the NCF in the deployment of its grassroots program.
Akpata said the board of the NCF was proud of the feat achieved by the teenagers, saying all the exposure gained by the players will serve the nation well in the future as a bulk of the players will form the core of the senior national team in the future.
“We went to the world cup with a strategic agenda and it is wrapped around building the core of Nigeria’s future teams both senior and next Under 17 teams from the World Cup and it worked well for us” he added.
President of the Federation, Professor Yahaya Ukwenya had said that the new senior national team that would feature in the forthcoming Africa Cricket Association T-20 Championship in Nairobi (Kenya) in March would have some of the teenagers as members.
Enesi Dahiru, the Federation’s Technical Director affirmed the Federation’s position by saying that the National Team is expected to open camp soon ahead of the ACA meet and six members of the U19 players have been identified to take up some strategic places in the national team.
“We are very cautious and every of our plan were deliberate in seeing that all our activities were integrated into the developmental plan. Ultimately we want to build a new, more focused national team and maintain a clear conduit that would continually churn out talents year after year for every level of play”.
Sylvester Okpe, captain of the U19 team said it was a privilege to serve the country at this level and he sees a bright future for the country.
The Junior Yellow Greens lost their first five matches at the World Cup to Australia, West Indies, England, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates before nicking their only win against Japan to finish in 15th place out of the 16 teams at the event.
The World Cup was Nigeria’s first global outing in the 105-year-old history of the game in the country.