The Lagos State Sports Commission says it will continue to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the economy of the state through the promotion of sports at the grassroots level.
The commission’s Chairman, Deji Tinubu, made the assertion at the closing of the maiden Lagos T20 Secondary Schools Cricket Championships at the Cricket Oval, Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan.
Tinubu said the government’s commitment to encouraging sports at the grassroots was essentially to take the youths away from the streets and vices.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the competition, which had 300 students drawn from 16 secondary schools, was sponsored by the commission and organised by the Lagos Cricket Association.
NAN reports that the championship’s boys’ category was won by Onitilo Community High School, Surulere after they defeated Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Isolo by 62 runs, four wickets and eight overs against 59 runs 6 wickets and eight overs.
Ansar-Ud-Deen Boys College emerged the third best team for the tournament.
In the girls’ category, Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls Secondary School, Itire emerged champions, while the second place was claimed by Surulere Girls Secondary School and Adebola Baptist High School also in Surulere, came third.
Tinubu said that part of the state government’s efforts to drive the economy of the state through sport was to ensure that grassroots development of sports was made a priority.
“We will continue to lend our unflinching support towards youth development in a competition like this; this is part of our drive towards repositioning sports in the state.
“We recognise sports as a vital tool to youth development though cricket is not as popular as football but it also has its followership as we have seen today.”
“Cricket is a gentleman’s game as it has been said and it is also has many people following it,’’ Tinubu said.
Also, Kofi Sagoe, the Chairman, Lagos State Cricket Association, said the tournament had achieved its objectives of developing youths at the grassroots.
“The standard and the turnout were very high and I am happy for that.”
“We know that the game, cricket, is a gentleman’s game that allows for healthy competition and also prepares people for the future. Cricket is a game of character.”
“This is not the first time young children are called to play cricket but the first time we are having sponsorship from the government and we are happy for the intervention of Lagos State”, he said.
Sagoe, who claimed to be born into a family of cricketers, said that the sport runs in his blood.
He added that players from the schools were already exposed to the nitty-gritty of the game.
“We already have a database of the players and obviously will monitor their development and when the time comes for them to represent the state; they shall be called upon to do so.”
“The whole idea is to catch them young and develop their talents. We have direct engagements with them and we also provide coaches that tutored them.”
“There are enough coaches now to go round the state, the only challenge we have now is how to mobilise them in terms of funds”, he added.
NAN reports that the championships are aimed at developing grassroots cricket and discovering young talents among secondary school students.
It is noteworthy that the competing schools are debutants in the competition but displayed in-depth knowledge of the game.
The Cricketer and Batsman of the Series in the tournament in the boys’ category went to Mohammed Taiwo of Onitolo Community High School, Surulere. He had 90 runs and four wickets.
The Bowler of the series went to Kehinde Arigbabu of Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Isolo, while the Wicket Keeper of the Series went to Ibrahim Salako of the same school.
In the Girls category, Fielder of the series went to Aminat Nelson of Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls Secondary School, Itire and Bowler of the Series went to Timi Seaman of Adebola Baptist High School Surulere.
Batsman of the Series, Wicket Keeper of the Series and the Cricketer of the Series went to Ifeoma Umeh of Onitilo Community High School, Itire.