The Nigeria Cricket Federation has revealed the lack of financial support from the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development towards the U19 cricket team.
The team departed the shores of the country to Zimbabwe to participate in a 5 match series.
The Nigeria representatives left on Sunday will also enjoy two weeks pre-tournament preparation ahead of U19 World Cup qualifiers in Namibia starting middle of March 2019.
According to Nigeria Cricket Federation President Prof Adams Ukwenya, the Zimbabwe tour will toughen up the boys against highly rated opponents.
“It’s a major privilege for Zimbabwe, a test nation to accept us for a series and we are looking forward to the performances of our boys against them. It is aimed at toughening them up and gaining valuable experience.
We are fortunate that Zimbabwe came to our rescue after failure of two camping sites in SA.”
Prof Ukwenya praised Coach ‘Clive’ Uthe for his contribution to make the Zimbabwe tour a reality.
“The trip has been made possible by the selflessness of Mr Uthe Ogbimi National Team Coach, who contacted friends in Zimbabwe and worked tirelessly to ensure that visa and travel arrangements were in order.”
On his part, Coach Uthe has assured Nigerians especially cricket followers that the crop of boys selected are match winners at any given time.
“It is difficult to pin point one player, it is a team that has dept both with bat and ball. You find the likes of Samuel Mba, Sunday Olaleye, Danladi, Sylvester Okpe, captain. Taiwo Mohammed, Jihmo and the rest. Every one of them on their day are match winners. We have Peter who just came back from South Africa, strike bowlers like Rasheed Abolarin,. We have new entrants who are hungry to make name like Akere, Isesele, Miracle and Boniface.”
On the possible outcome of the qualifiers, Nigeria’s most decorated cricket player and coach comments.
“The match against Namibia is going to be a good challenge, everyone that we are going to play against are no pushover, they are tested teams. Namibia, Uganda and Kenya all in World cricket are ahead of us in rating. But this time around all the teams are developing. It’s a game where whoever wins the nervy battles, mental game will carry the day in each of these matches
The idea of the camping is to make sure our players meet up with supposed superior opposition so that they can be stretched up to their limits in the game.
South Africa was the other option but lately securing visa and tour approval was cumbersome. So the next stop was Zimbabwe. Obviously we couldn’t talk about Kenya, Uganda or Namibia because we’re going to play against them.”
On the support so far from the ministry of Youth and Sports development, Nigeria Cricket Federation Technical Director, Mr Enesi Jr. said,
“Well the support may not be financially, but when it comes to the other aspects of the game like giving us land to build our turf pitch we’re currently building in Abuja, it was the Ministry of Youth and Sports that gave us. And they also told us that they will do everything to support the growth of cricket game in the country. Financially speaking we have not got anything from them but morally, they are like partners to us.”
Cricket like other team sports federation across the country has been begging and hopeful to have developmental funding from the central government for decades. Football game has enjoyed Nigeria’s sports ministry attention and bulky financing to the detriment of other team’s sports.