By Kemi Ajayi
The trophy of the International Cricket Council’s World Cup (ICC World Cup trophy) will arrive in Nigeria on Monday for a three-day tour of the country.
The Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), in a statement on Sunday, said the tour is part of the build-up to the 2019 World Cup.
“Nigeria, in spite of not being eligible to participate in the World Cup competition in the UK in June, was picked as one of the countries the trophy would visit.
“This was in recognition of the country’s growing interest in the game,” the NCF President, Prof. Yahaya Ukwenya, said in the statement.
He said he and his team in the NCF board could not have thought about this about 18 months ago, when they assumed leadership of the Federation.
“I believe we have communicated to the world how passionate our team is, in several ways, and, how ready we are to grow the game.
“In these few months that we have run cricket as a new board, our zeal is what has earned us this” he added.
According to the statement, the trophy would be hosted in Abuja and Lagos.
While in Abuja, it would be received by the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung.
It would then visit some iconic places, such as the Shehu Musa Yar’ adua Cultural Centre and the Katampe Hill.
In Lagos, the trophy would be received by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, before being displayed at the Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval on Lagos Island.
Also, Uyi Akpata, the NCF Vice-President, said in the statement that having the trophy in Nigeria was indeed an honour to the country.
“The tour of the World Cup Trophy is presently the biggest activity in the game of cricket and Nigeria has been placed on that map by sheer effort of the dedicated people that make up the leadership of NCF.
“We have a lot of people in the cricket community that have been yearning to have a taste of the World Cup Trophy.
“We are working out a very fair ground that will be inclusive for all the groups represented in Nigeria, including students, members of the diplomatic community, sports professionals, enthusiast and fans” he said.
Akpata added that the efforts of the board since inception has seen Nigeria move from Division 2 to Division 1 in the under-19 category.
“The hitherto-unranked women’s national team has been ranked 36th in the world.
“The NCF also kicked off a grass roots development programme through which more than 3,000 kids were reached in 2018, with double that figure being targeted in 2019,” he said.
The World Cup trophy (ICC World Cup trophy) will depart Nigeria on Wednesday.(NAN)