Saturday, July 02, 2022

Salako Rings Changes Ahead of PwC U-17 Championships



Within the last twelve months that the last edition of the PwC National U-17 Championship was concluded at the Edo Boys High School in Benin, one of the players that campaigned for the South West, Ridwan Abdulkareem has had a national cap with the Senior national team. And so, the head coach of the present South West team, Azeez Salako says that his team for 2022 would be parading more talents in the mold or Ridwan when hostilities get underway in Abuja next week.

“I think playing in Abuja bodes well for us, at the inaugural edition of the championship, though we finished in fourth place, we were the only team that checkmated the eventual winners from North West.

“Again, in Benin last year, we had some stints, but some of our players shone on individual grounds and I believe we have a stronger side this year. More players in the mold Ridwan” He said.

Salako is the Lagos state’s Under 17 Coach and since his team triumphed in the South West male category, he gets to chaperon the entire South West team, while his opposite from Oyo State, John Idako assists.

The 3rd PwC National Under 17 Championship is billed for the Cricket turfs of the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja from February 15th to 20th, with all the 784 players from 31 states now whittled down to the best 84 players representing all the 31 states.

Delia Asuzu, Head Marketing and Communication of PwC said that the Championship has become the breeding ground for champions in such a short time it has run:

“We have had a couple of outstanding players graduate from this event and featured as national team members and of course, this becomes the template for inviting players for the national camp. I believe it’s because of the rigorous process that the players go through to the national finals. And it helps hone the players and help them give their best.

Asuzu, said her outfit, PricewaterhouseCoopers sees the event as a tool to promote national unity among the players hence the parade of regional teams at the national finals.

However, Salako, the South West Coach added that he knows the weight of responsibility that has been handed him by leading the team and he hopes to deliver by assembling a compact side when the finals begin next week.

“I have my style as a coach and I believe when the right pieces are put together, success will happen. I believe we have the right blend of pacers, spin bowlers, batters, and all-rounders going to this event.

The team is currently assembled at the Tafawa Balewa Square Cricket Oval facility in Lagos and hopes to depart for Abuja for the national finals days before the championship flags off.

Why Ekiti Female Team Keep Dominating SW Cricket

Coach John Ayangbemi and his Under 17 Female Cricket team was adjudged the best female Cricket team of 2021 for dislodging the South West powerhouse at the regional qualifiers of the PwC U-17 National Championship last year.

They came back this year and maintained the honor by checkmating traditional leaders, Ogun, Oyo, and Lagos again at the Cricket pitch of Liberty Stadium, a performance their coach has said may not abate anytime soon.

“We have made good use of the training equipment that the (Nigeria Cricket) Federation has sent across under the developmental project. It has given our training a stronger bite and exposed the players to better equipment than the old and the improvised equipment that we used to train the players with” he said.

Ayangbemi said most Ekiti players have been exposed to the game from Primary School: “The early exposure to standard equipment for us played a big part on the adoption of the right skills by our players and the consequent good spells we have enjoyed in the region of late.

“It was easy because a number of the girls were consistent with our programme; that’s why we have seen this level of performance back-to-back from them. We have struggled with the boys’ team as most of them are hard to get to commit to the game. But by and by; the good result from the girls have raised the motivation and the commitment from the boys too.” He added.

He said he believes the rising interest and some level of commitment from the state’s Sports Council and support by the Nigeria Cricket Federation they plan to expand their catchment and training regimen beyond the four local governments that presently have built their programmes around.

The female team has returned to Ibadan after the coach has sought permission from parents and schools to have the girls released for the national finals. Ayangbemi believes they will make a bigger impact having learned from their maiden national spotlight as the action for the national title gets underway from February 15th to 20th.

“We are not afraid of any team, we are confronting at the national finals, the South-West female Under 17 team is grounded in the basics of the game and we believe the mental side of the game is also well built” Ayangbemi added.

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