The President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, Uyi Akpata, has said more than 1,000 kids will begin the fight for a place to represent each of the six geo-political zones of the country at the finals of the 4th PwC-NCF National Under- 17 Cricket Championship starting from Friday, January 20th, 2023.
“Nigeria’s cricket is negotiating a critical cusp in its history and the National Under-17 Championship is a major factor in that. This weekend, over 1,000 kids would begin their journey to stardom as the 4th edition of the event kicks off in Ibadan, Oyo State,” hinted the NCF president.
Boys and girls representing Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states will assemble at the Liberty Stadium and Government College Ibadan Cricket pitches to kickstart the race to the finals.
Akpata said that the event has now become the cornerstone for developmental cricket in Nigeria. He admitted that in the few years of staging the tournament, it has produced some brilliant players, some of whom have had national team call-ups.
“This event forms the natural selection process for the National Under-19 teams and we have seen some players graduate to the senior national teams from here. So, this event means a lot to the federation, and thanks to our sponsors, PwC Nigeria, uLesson, and Bento Africa, we now have reasons to deepen our search for more talents courtesy of their support,” he added.
The states in the South East will assemble for their zonal elimination event at St. Patrick’s College, Emene, Enugu from Tuesday, January 24th to Sunday 29th, 2023, where Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Abia and host Enugu states will vie for places to represent the region at the National Finals later in February.
The North-East and North-West will run their elimination events from January 26th to 29th and 26th to 31st respectively.
The North-East teams will lock horns at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe, where Borno, Taraba will join the host state to vie for slots.
In the North-West, competing states include Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, and Zamfara and the venue will be the Abdu Haliru Stadium in Kebbi.
Defending Champion in both categories, the South-South have scheduled their qualifiers to run between January 29th and February 2nd where, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Edo will be competing for slots for the National Finals from Edo Boys High School in Benin City, Edo State.
The Chairman of the Organising Committee of this year’s edition, Tayo Sowole confirmed that best practices for the game will be maintained in terms of officiating and the conditions for the kids arriving from different places to participate.
“We don’t have another chance to make a first impression of how accountable we are to the kids when they show up for this event. So our plans to have the best of the game and a fair measure of hospitality extended to the players across the region is our key objective. And we hope to treat all players, winners or losers equally.”