Oyo cricketers gather for fourth Femi Esan Memorial Schools tourney
THE Cricket family in Oyo State will again remember one of its finest, late Femi Esan, as the Schools Cricket Tournament held in his honour begins at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, from January today. It will end on January 30, 2015.
Current champions of the annual cricket tournament, which is in its fourth edition, is Oke Ado High School.
Femi Esan was a student of GCI Government College Ibadan, one of the prestigious schools reputed for impressive performance both in academics and sports. He played for the school and also for what was then known as Western State. He also played for Unilag, and was captain of the team, which won gold at the 1981 West Africa University Games – WAUG in Ivory Coast.
His contemporaries from Unilag include the Sagoe brothers, Kwesi and Kofi, Bode Olaniyan, George Wiltshire, Kome Agodo, and Dipo Idowu. Their mates from then University of Ife who took silver at the Yamoussoukro meet, include the Agodo brothers, Kome and Ejiro, Seye Fadahunsi, Gbenga Akinyombo and Jide Adedeji. Many of them are still at the vanguard of keeping the sport of cricket going in Nigeria.
Mindful that talent is nurtured in schools, Femi Esan in his lifetime always contemplated the initiative of promoting sports in schools. He was unfortunately killed by unknown gunmen 15 years ago, thus cutting short his dreams for building the future stars of Nigerian Cricket. His family and friends pursue this initiative through this annual schools tournament.
Speaking on the tourney, the chairman, Oyo State Cricket Association, Okon Ukpong, said: “The revival and restoration of Cricket in Oyo State in the last four years cannot be divorced from the Femi Esan Memorial Schools Cricket Championship Competition. The event came at a time we needed a competition to evaluate the development programme we started five years ago.”
“It provided a veritable platform to harness the budding talents produced by the development programme”.
The competition was well embraced by schools and has been growing in terms of the member of schools presently competing. It started with five schools namely, Government College Ibadan, OkeadoHigh School, Ansar-Ul-deen High School, Rochas Okorocha High School and Liberty Baptist Secondary School, but has grown to 10 schools.
“In addition to the earlier Schools are, Bashorun Ogunmola High School, American International School, Muslim College Ibadan, Municipal Grammar School and Glorious International School. The interest and enthusiasm shown by schools have been overwhelming but we have had to manage the number because of our resource constraints.”
According to Ukpong, some stars of the programme have been selected to represent Nigeria at the U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Tanzania, which holds from the February 14th to 21 2015. “Their names are Akachukwu Chima from Okeado High School, Elijah Olaleye from Okeado High School, Runsewe Suleiman from Ansar-ul-Deen High School and Adewole Vincent from Government College Ibadan,” the President enthused.