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What do England and Nigeria have in common?

April 17, 2022

No, this has nothing to do with colonialism. We’ll help you. The female cricket teams of both nations lost in final matches to their fiercest rivals over the past month

As the ladies from down under were celebrating a 7th World Cup victory, so were the ladies from the land of a thousand hills celebrating their hard-fought victory at the Nigeria Cricket Federation’s Women’s T20I Invitational Tournament. 

For an entire week from the 28th of March, the Tafawa Balewa Square Cricket Oval was agog with exciting and entertaining cricket on display as Amazons from Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Rwanda and Sierra Leone lit up the stage. Hosts Nigeria and Rwanda ranked 37th and 31st respectively in the ICC T20i standings were always going to be favourites going into the competition and they didn’t disappoint. Both sets of players came into the tournament on the back of their last duel in Kigali, each one sizing the other up to know where the chink in the armour is. It ended one piece but Rwanda took the most relevant, most important victory. It was a testament to the fact that a rivalry has brewed and a pointer to what to expect in Kwibuka in a few months. 

While the on-field exploits of the players were amazing to behold, it was made possible by the quality of effort put in by just about everyone involved…from the second the idea was conceived till the minute the closing speech was delivered. The Local Organising Committee once again came to the party and fully prepared too, knowing the enormity of the task at hand. For some of them on the committee, it was going to be the biggest event they have helped to plan in a while. For others, it was the biggest event they have ever planned. Planning would have been useless without proper execution. When the time came for execution, service givers and volunteers gave it all they had to ensure that every aspect of the tournament matched the concept that was presented. 

In line with the current administration’s five strategic imperatives of developing the game, upgrades and provision of facilities are always top on the log. Having in mind that the development of the sport in the country is tied to the availability of standard facilities, the NCF set out to renovate the over-a-century-old TBS oval from a concrete surface to a 10-pitch turf square.

Now, the TBS ground is one of the five ICC standard turf wickets Nigeria now boasts of, excluding two of those that are currently under construction. Interestingly, all were done by local expertise.

This is not just the story. The story is of a 21-year-old Monsurah Yusuf, Nigeria’s first and only female groundskeeper. Yusuf, under the tutelage of Yemi Amusa (NCF’s pitch consultant), is in charge of one of the country’s cricket grounds a few kilometres away from TBS oval but her services were needed and she was deployed to the team tending and getting the pitch ready for the T20i Invitational.

Like Yusuf, the NCF is keen on developing women’s cricket in the country across all sectors and across many disciplines - playing, coaching, umpiring, groundskeeping and administration.

The Nigeria Women T20i Invitational also witnessed two women, Temitope Onikoyi and Deborah Imobighe, as part of the eight that made up the tournament's Playing Control Team. For Temitope Onikoyi who happens to be the country’s only CSA-certified Level 1 female umpire, it was not the first international outing for her as she was also part of the officiating team for the Nigeria - Sierra Leone Bilateral Series back in October of 2021.

For Deborah, it was her first time standing in an international game and she brought with her all and every lesson and experience she had gathered as an umpire. She did not disappoint as she gave a good account of herself, acting as a source of inspiration to other women who may have been contemplating officiating too.

Another of the very obvious positives is the plethora of sponsors that threw their support behind the NCF. This is testament to the amount of work that the leadership of the NCF has put into cultivating relationships with various stakeholders and also the level of financial transparency and corporate governance which is a key factor in attracting external support. 

Headline Sponsors, Access Bank were supported by others like sportswear giant AFA Sports, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Iris Smart Technologies, AA Rescue, 1M Systems, The Sagoe Foundation, Glee Hotels, Pillar Oil, PETS Foundation and more.

Overall, it was an amazing week of cricket and we think we speak for everyone involved when we say that we can hardly wait for the next one.


6 Likes

5 Comments

  • avatar image

    Clement Amanokhai

    April 17,2022 at 07:14:30

    A spot on write up, Weldon

  • avatar image

    Temitope

    April 17,2022 at 07:19:20

    Superb write up Well done team "Themiddlestump" I'm always excited to read ????

  • avatar image

    Muinat Alao

    April 17,2022 at 07:47:44

    Good to see women taking positions in the development of the sport ?. Great work “Themiddlestump”

  • avatar image

    P4

    April 17,2022 at 08:01:50

    Nice. We (The Fans) can't wait for the next invitational.

  • avatar image

    Enesi Junior

    April 17,2022 at 10:07:46

    Captivating write up. Always love reading your articles.

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