Vice-President of the National Cricket Association, Uyi Akpata, has urged the Edo Government to support the growth of cricket in schools.
Akpata made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Benin on Sunday.
“There should be partnership between the government and private sector. When there is a good leadership from the private sector side, government should totally align by assisting for sports to development.
“The area where I really want to see the government come in in the game of cricket is encouraging the schools to support their students,” he said.
Akpata, who is also the Edo Cricket Association Chairman, said as part of the plan to introduce the sport in school curriculum, the association would soon be collaborating with the state Ministry of Education on the matter.
He said the government should not be fully involved in supporting sports in terms of financing, because it would not be sustainable.
He, however stressed, that government intervention in sports should come in terms of support and structure.
“For instance, it is the state government that has given us this ground we are using for our games, they have also promised to do a perimeter fence round the school. We believe they can assist us to build hostel in the schools also,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Cricket National Team Coach , Uthe Ogbimi, has said that lack of investment in Cricket was the bane of the game in the country.
He said the amount of investment in the sport, by both governments and private organisations, was little when compared with countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He said investment in the production of coaches, kits and young players, would help to improve the rating of Nigeria in Cricket from its current 48 position in the world and 6 in Africa.
Ogbimi, however, expressed the determination of the national body to make the game popular throughout the country.
He disclosed that the association had planned to take the sport beyond its present level with the introduction of “Catch Them Young” programme.
“Ordinarily, the sport ought to have gone beyond its present level if not for the fact that the foundation of Cricket had been faulty from the onset, the reason being that it was only introduced in very few selected schools during the colonial era.
“Ideally, every primary and secondary schools in the country should have a cricket team. This is exactly what the national association is trying to do; by catching them young.
“We are also trying to professionalise the sport by making people see it beyond mere playing it for fun; popularise the sport and also raise the standard.
“Aside this, we are also working to see that we improve on our rating in the continent and the world, starting with the qualifying series in April.
“We will be playing the qualifier for South Africa with countries such as Sierra Leone and Ghana.
“Nigeria’s team has currently fallen from the division 5 to the regional level.
“Our aim is to secure a place in division 5 and probably see how we move from there,” he said.(NAN)