The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare, Friday, received the Under-19 Cricket team led by the President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation Prof. Yahaya Adam Ukwenya
Recieving the team, the Minister praised the young team for qualifying to represent Nigeria at the world tournament. “The first time in a hundred years, that for me is a very important milestone in sports development in this country. It also signposts the fact that this country is a bundle of talents. The number of talents we have in this country just in the sports arena alone is massive. It shows that there’s nothing when it comes to sport that Nigerians put their hands on that they cannot excel.
He expressed optimism that though the team has been grouped with tough teams, they would excel at the competition. “This team will go there and do Nigeria proud. They are going there not for trials but to compete against the best”, he said.
“When you look at the profiles of these teams, it is very intimidating but you must play the game and win. Sometimes when you lose, you have also won because you have competed with the best. The fact that you are on the same platform and pedestal at the World Cup shows that you are good enough to compete so bear that in mind when you step out to play.”
He on behalf of the Sports Ministry and the Federal Government thanked the team and Federation as a whole for the sacrifices they have made and urged them not to relent because their efforts would not go unnoticed. He also intimated the gathering that efforts were on to secure private partnerships for funding for the Federation.
“When you return, matter what happens at the competition, I and all the Directors at the Ministry will take you to see Mr. President”, he promised.
The President of the Cricket Federation who spoke earlier, presenting the Under-19 team to the Minister, said, the team’s qualification process started in August last year with the Division 2 Africa Qualifiers as underdogs and emerged victorious. “We were then invited to play the African finals in March this year and against all odds, these boys won the tournament, winning all matches of the tournament”, he said.
He added that the boys have been in camp for over two years and have made sacrifices qnd suffered losses but have not relented.
The President who pointed out that the boys have surpassed his expectations, hoped their qualification will open the doors to many Nigerian teams appearing in International Cricket Council tournaments and World Cups.