The new president of the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), Uyi Akpata, has revealed plans to recruit 250, 000 youths across the country into the sport. This, he said, he would by building on the existing structures of the previous board where 16 Regional Development Officers were engaged to lead training and development of cricket across the country.
Speaking after his inaugural meeting with members of the new of NCF, Akpata said the 250, 000 which will be recruited into the game would form the bedrock of cricket resurgence in Nigeria.
“We have 16 field officers that were recruited during the last board. So we would get 20 others at this time to enable other states and the FCT to have those development officers as well,” Akpata declared.
“With that structure, each state and zone have targets in terms of the number of players they should reach each year to form the bedrock of the 250,000 yearly recruitment we are aiming at.”
Akpata, who served as a vice-president in Prof. Yahaya Ukwenya-led previous board of NCF, said his administration will invest in high impact centers in each state where it would encourage the schools to converge and have their students take a deeper dive and exposure to cricket.
To demonstrate urgency of the task ahead, the new board dispatched four training kits to Kebbi, Kwara, Plateau and Gombe States at the weekend through the secretariat in Abuja.
“This structure would form the basis for the different age-grade championships starting from the U-15 and U-17, which eventually will produce players for the national U-19 teams.
“We are going to encourage the zones to have secondary school tournaments. What you are going to see is zonal representatives; my colleagues on the board, devoting almost eighty percent of their time working on really developing the zones.
“We are hopeful for a very fruitful and engaging four years ahead and we would be glad to have all hands on deck with us in achieving this,”Akpata said.