Saturday, July 02, 2022

PwC, Youth Engagement and Cricket Intervention



Nigeria’s growing population leaves a yawning gap in the active engagement of school-age kids which is presently put at 42.54 percent of the estimated 214million population (www.worldpopulationreview.com).
 
This demography of Nigeria’s population is largely dependent and being not self-sustenance has a huge economic import and transit to teenage and adulthood without tangible skill set.

This demography of Nigeria’s population is largely dependent and they face the prospect of transiting from teenage to adulthood without proper education and any tangible skill sets.
 
Tolu Adeleke, a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)said the numbers and the potential outlook had compelled his firm to seek possible ways of intervention, one of which is the strategic partnership it is currently engaged in, with the Nigeria Cricket Federation.
 
“While we have a number of other levels of engagement that we believe can help reach these huge numbers, Cricket comes to us as one of the most practical options. for now.
 
“It is interesting what they are doing and how as a sporting body they have kept consistent and verifiable data of engagement with a large number of the demography we have plans to reach. This makes it very easy for us to align plug in our plans with their system.” He added.
 
Cricket activities in Gombe, Borno, and Taraba states have been able to add to the active engagement data of school children engaged in some form of active learning. All three states were represented at the 2022 Regional finals of the PwC National Cricket Championship hosted at Gombe.
 
According to Tolu, “The data from the North East should give anyone interested in having active engagement with the youth and Out of School Children (OOSC) some concerns. But working with the team at the NCF, we have been able to penetrate, and we can only scale things up since we have a foot at the door.
 
Emeka Igwilo, the General Manager of the Federation says that the activities generated were part of a larger plan for spreading the game across the country.
 
“We have National Developmental Managers and field officers that cover these key areas, who are on the payroll of the Federation. All these people are the reason why we can reach almost every zone of the country.
“Their jobs are measured. We have a well-structured system that captures activities and evaluates their performance and this has been in place for over four years now.” He said.
 
Unlike most sports, Cricket in Nigeria is one of the sports that made huge leaps during the pandemic and as the lulls wear down, the impact of the development structure is beginning to be thrown up.
 
Twice, the Nigeria Cricket Federation has been recognized by the International Cricket Council (Africa), for putting up a commendable developmental programme and data to support it.
 
“Presently, our groundsmen training programme, which was developed out of necessity at the heat of the pandemic (in 2020) in order to improve our playing surfaces (turfs), is being taught and exported to other African countries; that is not leaving the fact that Nigeria has been awarded the best development award in 2019 (for Africa), as well, during this period”.
 
The new board of the Federation, elected in September 2021 has ambitiously announced it planned to reach 250,000 kids with the game yearly for the next four years and that includes even participation across the six geographical zones of the country.
 
Adeleke added that “When the Cricket Federation shared their plans, part of what makes it attractive to work with them is the fact that they have a presence in all the places we have an interest in and they share data on active engagement with us.”
 
He said it was easy to layer their youth development plan on theirs and believes it is already yielding some gains.
 
“The PwC National Under 17 Cricket Championship is presently running its third edition now and the event has created some touchpoint with the school kids across the country, where they are being mentored through sporting and life skills.
 
“This year particularly we have been able to partner to create learning and engagement in some of the toughest and hard to reach zones such as Gombe, Tarafa, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto among others. And that is not to take our focus away from the South, East, and Western regions.” Adeleke further added.
 
He said the interest of his firm, PwC, is re-imagining the future for the school kids and helping them leverage the opportunities that are being created through their engagement with the sport.
 
The bulk of the South-South team that won the last two series of the event has been the bedrock of Nigeria Under 19 national team, this raises the level of exposure and has the potential to provide an escape from the poverty line that a large number of them are faced with.
 
Delia Asuzu, PwC’s Marketing and Communications Head, said the partnership with the Cricket Federation has enabled them to join hands in influencing a number of teenagers to reimagine what the future holds for them. They intend to use this collaboration to impact the lives of these children and society as they nurture more champions: equipped with cricket and life skills.
 
“We usually get the winning teams from each of the regions to bond and produce a regional team for the national finals. Meaning, all the teams in the region would have a say in what is best for the regional team that would be put together for the national finals, usually the team has at least a player from each state of the region.
 
“This helps ensure that no regional talent is left behind and the tournament results are hinged on sustainable outcomes. No region or state gets shut out in the process. It is an interesting journey using a cricket event to build, encourage and entrench togetherness amongst the youth.” Delia said.
 
In addressing gender balance, she said 44.6 percent of all the 784 players that took part in the 2022 Regional Qualifiers from January 29 to February 1, 2022, across the country were girls.
 
According to her, “We have continued to insist on, and get results with, the girl child inclusion and these players form the budding and new look national female Cricket team that is now ranked in the top five on the continent.”
 
Asuzu said beyond all other factors, unlocking the potential for the female gender through their participation in the event is also a key objective for PwC.
 
“In 2021, we had this exceptional talent representing the South-South female team, Lucky Piety at just 14 years old. In just one year that she came to the limelight by recording a century, she has been drafted twice into the national team and been spotlighted by the International Cricket Council. Here is a girl that lives in one of the towns off the usual radar for development in one of the South-South states and also goes to the farm to support the family.
 
“We are proud to be part of her journey, and we are working to ensure our strategic partnership with the Nigeria Cricket Federation, brings more kids like her to the limelight, and especially contributes to changing the metrics on youth engagement through Cricket”.
 
The finals of this year’s PwC U-17 National Championship is set for February 15th -20th at the Cricket turfs at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja where the six regional teams will be vying for honor; so it seems. But the real deal is the exposure, friendship, and unity that would be forged and is still being forged as PwC and NCF tighten their partnership.

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