BENIN CITY- Edo State Cricket Association has opened its 2019/2020 Cricket Season with the formal launch of it’s newly constructed International Turf Wickets at Edo Boys High School, (Formerly Adolor Grammar School) off Ugbowo, Benin City.
Vice President, Nigeria Cricket Federation and Chairman, Edo State Cricket Association, Mr. Uyi Akpata said he was excited about the achievement against the backdrop that, it has been three and a half years the Edo State Board of the Cricket Association came to power with the mandate to create an international standard pitch with a real grass turf wicket, which incidentally, is within the precinct of a secondary school.
He stated that the wicket turf was going to be used for the upcoming Edo State National Sports Festival due to the significant support received from the sports loving Governor, Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu.
He said it was an opportunity
to welcome and recognize the under 15 Cricket team from Edo State whose boys and girls won Gold at the last games in Abuja. According to him, four members of the under 19 team that made history from the Cricket World Cup are all from Edo State. Most of them started their careers here.
Speaking on the essence of the new Cricket season with the launch of the new grass turf, Akpata said, “For us, it is just a festival, the whole excitement stems from the fact that we have over one thousand kids here and the atmosphere is just exciting for us.”
President, Nigeria Cricket Federation, Prof. Yanga Okwenya used the occasion to call for government’s intervention in keeping the game of Cricket afloat within the ambience of the school environment by adequate funding to backup the Cricket Federation’s culture and tradition of taking off one million children off the streets due to their involvement in the game.
The involvement of youths in Cricket he said would influence the vision and hope of the Federation at mainstreaming, “The growth of our children physically and mentally takes them away from anti-social vices.”
Speaking on behalf of the guest of honour, Governor Godwin Obaseki and in his capacity as Deputy Governor Hon. Philip Shaibu praised the Federation for not allowing the game to die in the country through sustenance and grooming of talents who have grown to become national and international Cricket players.
He stated that efforts of the Federation at building the game was yielding fruit despite the attendant paucity of funds. He all that did not hinder the Federation at popularising the game amongst the youths in the country.
He praised the association for their intellectualism as membership comprised scholars from different fields of human endeavours who have helped to influence the next generation of Nigerians and cricketers with their positive spirit on and off the turf.
He praised the elated outgoing principal of the school, Mr. Richard Omoregbe Igbinadolor who was being honoured by the sportsmen/women for the support he gave to the group while in service which ensured the growth of the game and development of the students.
The Deputy Governor stated that what stood the outgoing principal out from the pack of other civil servants in his category was the fact that he rose above bureaucracy and nonchalance by asking for the introduction of additional games to keep the students busy, which was a positive thrust for civil servants in Edo State, especially now that government ensured that civil servants undergo digital trainings and reorientation to shore up their job efficiency, at least, on quarterly basis.
He affirmed that the state has rediscovered its sporting talent. He called on students to take advantage of the grass turf wicket in their school which would help them win more medals so as to represent the state and the country as they strive to become the best cricket players in the world.
Speaking about the essence of a rounded character, he told the students and cricketers that the game was not only about showing prowess on the field but an opportunity to have a high discipline which prepared them for future endeavours.
Hon. Shaibu put said “For us in Edo State we have rediscovered our talent. The Governor, Godwin Obaseki has insisted that we bring back our sports glory as was obtained during the Samuel Ogbemudia era, insisting that we must reclaim our sports glory.
This is why we have built modern sports facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. It is not just about the arena but the number of sports and facilities within that arena. Beyond the main bowl, which normally takes athletics and other related sports and football, the Ogbe Hard Court is coming back.
We have the only double Squash Court in the country presently in Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. We have an Olympic size diving pool and Olympic size swimming pool as well as a brand new Boxing and Taekwondo rings and the only dedicated Gymnastics Hall in Africa at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
When you get there, you we realize that we are making efforts to make Edo number one or second position in Africa, courtesy of the new edifices that have been erected there at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. For football lovers, the first Video Assisted Referee (VAR) technology Nigeria about the third in Africa has been installed at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. You can see that it is a full package.”
Throwing more light on sports achievements in the state he said “Today, we are celebrating the first Grass Cricket Turf at Edo Boys High School which is also the first within a secondary school in Nigeria.”
Shaibu said government was building twenty mini stadiums in the eighteen local government areas of the state within government owned schools so as to harness young talents, in addition to building three medium sized stadias in the three senatorial zones complete with athletics track facilities.
He noted that government had the duty to provide the enabling environment and infrastructure which the private sector had to key into, to keep sports facilities running. This partnership he said, would solve the issue of unemployment, idleness of youths and better security which helped to redistribute wealth in economic terms for the state by the emergence of new vendors.