Nigeria’s National Developments Manager (NDM) in charge of North West, Oche Onoja, believes the number of positives currently being witnessed in his region may combine to position them as the game’s powerhouse.
Onoja spoke against the backdrop of Northern teams’ performance at the recently concluded PriceWaterhouse Copper’s sponsored National U-17 Championship held at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
“The only survivor among the northern teams into the semifinals in Abuja was North West and North Central and they both lost. But that is not the true picture of the development in the north.
“In Kaduna, for instance, we have struggled with playing on standard pitch in the past three years due to the investment of the state government in modernising our playing facility.
“So, the players have been making do with astro-turfs, which has limited capacity to simulate match situation, like the case we had in Abuja during the U-17 Championship.”
Onoja, whose region in the past produced some key cricket talents that contributed immensely to Nigeria’s strong ranking of late, hinted that the facility in Kaduna is almost ready and would be put to use before the 2022 season comes to close.
“Sometime, by the middle of the year, our Kaduna Cricket Oval, with its world class hospitality infrastructure, will be fully ready for use and we are hoping that the state league, which will also return this year, will have some of its fixtures slated for the new oval,” he said.
He disclosed that the state’s target for grassroots development outreach is set at 20, 000 for the game, adding that given the pull strategy and the government support that the game has enjoyed under Governor Nasir El-Rufai, more kids are eagerly waiting for the cricket association to come calling.
“Kaduna has a strong following for the game and we have a working team that is enthusiastic in growing the game. I am very sure that once our new ground is opened, we will cover up the deficit we currently have racked up for using makeshift turfs in the past three years.
“I think from 2023, all things being equal, we should begin to see the effect of the upgrade,” he said.