Nigeria re-laying groundworks for the future

With the news that the ground at the University of Lagos being redeveloped Isaac Lockett has a look at the latest news.

Nigeria U19s with Faf Du Plessis

The University of Lagos Cricket Alumni Association has stated its intention and readiness to rebuild and upgrade the cricket ground at the University of Lagos. Kwesi Sagoe, the former president of the Nigerian Cricket Federation and previous student at the University of Lagos, has stated that the motivations to renovate the ground is two-fold. Firstly, Sagoe said that the alumni want to give back to cricket but also to ensure that cricket remains a part of the extra-curricular activities at the University of Lagos for years to come. 

The ground is being renovated in honour of the retired Adebola Kukoyi, who for a long period of time oversaw cricket at the University. Alongside this, the alumni are looking to name the ground after the now-retired Professor of Comparative Literature who turned 80 recently. When responding to news about the pitch being developed, Kukoyi was clearly delighted. Kukoyi explained that the game of cricket is one that can aid personal development, with the sport having potential positive impacts on an individuals confidence, discipline and concentration.  

The aim, as explained by Sagoe is to develop a centre of high performance at the University of Lagos and to form a strong relationship between the University and the Nigerian Cricket Federation. This is in keeping with the idea of improving the standard and professionalism of cricket within the country. 

Nigeria in Sharjah
Nigeria in Sharjah

When Uyi Akpata, the current Vice-President Nigerian Cricket Federation and a member of the alumni, said that there would be the need for at least N75 million (USD193,500) in order to develop a cricket pitch of international standard in the University. Akpata went on to say that the project was also time pressured explaining that the development needed to be completed within the next two months. 

Whilst speaking to The Guardian, Kukoyi enlightened readers with the previous stunting of cricket development in Nigeria. Most of the grounds where the youth of Nigerian cricket honed their talent when he was learning the game are no longer in existence, with many of the grounds either being left in ruin or have been built on. The move to redevelop the ground at the University of Lagos will hopefully be the first of future redevelopment of grounds in the country and will further aid to the development of Nigerian cricket. 

Recently, Nigerian cricket is on an upward trend with the U19 team qualifying for their maiden World Cup which took place in South Africa in early 2020. Not only did the team have a terrific qualifying campaign leading up to the global event, but the team continued to impress during the tournament with it becoming clear that the team have a number of young talents which could propel Nigeria to the forefront of African, and world cricket.

Talent including Chima Akachukwu, who featured in Daniel Beswick’s recent feature on Young Players to Watch, Uboh Ifeanyichukwu, Sesan Adedeji, and Sulaimon Runsewe, while many others have shown fantastic promise.

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