Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) President, Uyi Akpata, has said that more than 1, 000 children will begin their journey to stardom at regional competitions, which begin today.

The competitions will decide players that will represent each of the six geo-political zones at the finals of the Fourth PwC-NCF National U-17 Cricket Championship.

Speaking on the competitions, Akpata said, “Nigeria’s cricket is negotiating a critical cusp in its history and the National U-17 Championship is a major factor in that.

“This weekend over 1000 kids will begin their journey to stardom as the fourth edition of the event in Ibadan, Oyo State,” he said.

Boys and girls representing Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states will assemble at the Liberty Stadium and Government College Ibadan Cricket pitches to set the event off.

Akpata said that the event has now become the cornerstone for developmental cricket in Nigeria, disclosing that in the few years of staging it, it has produced some brilliant players some of whom have had national team call-ups.

“This event forms the natural selection process for the national U-19 teams and we have seen some players graduate to the senior national teams from here.”

So, this event means a lot to the federation, and thanks to our sponsors, PwC Nigeria, uLesson and Bento Africa, we now have reasons to deepen our search for more talents courtesy of their support,” he added.

The states in the South East will hold their zonal elimination competition at St. Patrick College, Emene, Enugu from January 24 to 29, 2023, where Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Abia and host Enugu states will vie for a place to represent the region at the national finals later in February.

The Northeast and Northwest will run their elimination events from January 26 to 29 and January 26 to 31 respectively.

The Northeast teams will lock horns at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe, where Borno, Taraba will join the host state to vie for slots.

In the Northwest, competing states include, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, and Zamfara and the venue will be Abdu Haliru Stadium, Kebbi.

Defending Champion in both categories, the South-South, have scheduled their qualifiers to run between January 29 and February 2, where Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Edo will compete for slots for the national finals from Edo Boys High School in Benin City.

Chairman of the Organising Committee of this year’s edition, Tayo Solwole, said that care has been taken to ensure best practices, in terms of officiating and the conditions for the kids arriving from different places to participate.

“We don’t have another chance to make a first impression of how accountable we are to the kids when they show up for this event. So, our plan to have the best of the game and a fair measure of hospitality extended to the players across the region is our key objective. And we hope to treat all players, winners or losers equally,” he said.

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