In a country where everyone is aware of names like Mohammad Bangura, Kei Kamara, and Isha Sesay, the former two being noted footballers whilst the latter is a media personality, someone like George Edward Ngegba is making heads turn, slowly but steadily. Moreover, the 2002-born cricketer is determinedly adding to the cricketing narrative of a country replete with pristine white-sand beaches.
George Edward Ngeba is a young cricketer from Sierra Leone, George Edward Ngegba won the “best bowler of the competition. George won the “Best Sports Man Of The Year Award” In Sierra Leone’s National Entertainment Awards. George is the leading runs scorer for the Sierra Leone Men’s National team in all ICC tournaments and also the leading runs scorer and current highest wicket-taker for Sierra Leone in all ICC-organized tournaments. George’ Uncle play a handy part in his journey, a highly capable and skilled carpenter who introduced him to the game, having given him a wooden bat-shaped out of a coconut tree
Among the youngsters keenly devoted to upholding the dignity of a sport in a country where football continues to attract greater attention, George Edward Ngegba, a genuine all-rounder, is leading the ascension for Sierra Leone in a vastly competitive sport where the dearth of financial support is an every-day reality, prosperity due to cricket- not so much.
At a time where the youth, as a result of a lack of proper guidance, mentoring, and hand-holding can lose the plot and long-term focus, George Edward Ngegba, yet to turn 19, speaks about cricket with calmness and sense of purpose rare to find in youngsters of his age.
In an exclusive to Caught At Point, the right-hander who also bowls spin mentioned, “As a people, we are resilient and we replicate same in playing with fielding, bowling and batting as our plusses. In a nutshell, we are a well-balanced all-around team but lack the facilities to optimize our potentials. For now, most of the key players are emerging players from the U19 squad. However, we also have senior players like Lansana Lamin, Abubakarr Kamara, Abass Gbla, and Solomon Williams who are the current key players in the National team.”
His words echoed a sense of purpose and never seemed to meander into the cliched or random as he went on to narrate how he got into the sport and spoke of what some of his earliest challenges were.
As I learned about these, I was as heartbroken as determined to make a case for an able young man who shared that even today, despite captaining the Under-19 team, the November-born hasn’t been able to afford himself a cricket bat, let alone proper cricketing gear that could assure him of the necessary physical infrastructure needed to hone his able craft.
Speaking with unbridled passion about those who’ve helped the noted cricketer, who does have an ESPNCricinfo page on him, George spoke about how the future of Sierra Leoneans in cricket can stem from the bright Under-19 lot.
WHEN ASKED ABOUT WHO SOME OF THE KEY PLAYERS IN THE TEAM ARE, THOSE AROUND WHOM THE CONTOURS OF CRICKET IS SHAPED, WITHOUT BATTING AN EYELID, GEORGE REPLIED, “WE DO HAVE PLAYERS LIKE JOHN BANGURA, ERIC M. TURAY, EMMANUEL AKPOH, RAYMOND COKER, ALUSINE TURAY, GEORGE SESAY, KARIM KAMARA, IBRAHIM SHEIK KAMARA, AND MOHAMED KAMARA. THEY ARE THE CURRENT KEY PLAYERS WE ARE TRYING TO DEVELOP BEFORE THE NEXT U-13 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS. JOHN BANGURA AND ERIC M. TURAY ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE BEING THE MOST EXPERIENCED AND MATURED PLAYERS IN THE TEAM. FOR THE PATRIOTS NATIONAL TEAM WE HAVE PLAYERS LIKE LANSANA LAMIN, ABUBAKARR KAMARA, ABASS GBLA, MOHAMED KHAN, SOLOMON WILLIAMS AND CHERNOH BAH WHO ARE AMONG THE BEST SET OF PLAYERS WE CAN CURRENTLY BOAST OF AND EXPECT SO MUCH FROM THEM FOR ANY TOURNAMENTS. LANSANA LAMIN AND ABUBAKARR KAMARA ARE THE TWO MOST EXPERIENCED PLAYERS IN THE CURRENT SQUAD AND ARE MUCH MORE TALENTED.”
But make no mistake.
George himself has picked up quite a few awards, which sooner or later, are going to go a long way to encourage youngsters to take up a sport and hence, increase the participation in the bat and ball route.
Take, for instance, in their just-concluded domestic premier league, T20, George Edward Ngegba won the “best bowler of the competition.” Besides this, he was also adjudged the “most valuable player of the competition,” excelling with both bat and ball, taking 35 wickets from 15 games wherein he’d also score 167 runs (from 9 games).
Not that this was a flash-in-the-pan performance; as right after the mini IPL-like T20 league within Sierra Leone, of its noted sons won the “Best Batsman,” along with “Best Bowler,” and the “Most Valuable Player” of the SLCA’s Men’s Elite Franchise League. During this contest, he led his team as captain to become the Champions of the league. Leading by an example, he scored 184 runs in 5 innings, took 18 wickets along with 5 catches in the competition.
For those who’d have wondered what his ICC records are- George Edward Ngegba has already grabbed 68 wickets plus struck 647 runs (and 17 catches) having first wielded the game in an international in 2016.
Upon poking him more about his cricket, when he could well have boasted about it given the teenage years and that impressionable age, George coyly admitted, “I’m the current leading runs scorer for the Sierra Leone Men’s National team in all ICC tournaments and also the leading runs scorer and current highest wicket taker for Sierra Leone in all ICC organized tournaments.”
His delight stems from the fact that at his disposal is a well-balanced and capable team, though the plight is that it lacks the necessary cohesive physical infrastructure so that a band of talented neophytes can find their footing in a sport where one’s keen to trample over weaklings.
George’s formative years saw his uncle play a handy part in his journey, a highly capable and skilled carpenter who introduced him to the game, having given him a wooden bat shaped out of a coconut tree. A bit of a Brian Lara tale in that- right? Though he was just 6 when George Edward Ngegba was taken into a cricket seminar by his elder brother, which lasted for three full days. Back in the mid 2000s, he was the youngest in the entirety of Sierra Leone to attend that cricketing event.
So what happened next in the life of a man who closely follows developments in Indian cricket?
“I WAS CAREFULLY TRAINED AND SPECIALLY NURTURED BY COACH IBRAHIM OMARR SESAY WHO WAS MY FIRST COACH SINCE I WAS INTRODUCED TO THE GAME. HE WAS NOT A COACH TO ME BUT ALSO A TEACHER AND A MENTOR TO MANY OF US WHO PLAYED UNDER HIM AND WAS FORTUNATE TO WATCH HIM PLAY FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
AFTER COACH IBRAHIM O. SESAY’S TENURE COACH MUSTAPHA KALLON WHO PLAYED A GREAT ROLE TO HELP DEVELOP ME AS A SPINNER AND A PROPER ALL ROUNDER AGAIN TRAINED ME. FROM 2012 TO DATE I’VE BEING WELL MANAGED AND SCHOOLED BY MY TEAM MANAGER IN THE PERSON OF DANIEL KOROMA WHO HAS TREMENDOUSLY CONTRIBUTED IN MY CAREER AND GREATLY HELP ME TO MAKE THE SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM IN 2016.“
ALL OF THIS, SUGGESTS SOMETHING DISTINCT ABOUT THE SIERRA LEONIAN. HAVING ALREADY TASTED SUCCESS IN THE SPORT DESPITE THESE BEING EARLY DAYS, HE’S WILLING TO GIVE RESPECT TO THOSE WHO HELPED HIM FIND HIS BEARINGS. IT’S QUITE HOW KIMANI MELIUS RECOLLECTS THE AWESOME CONTRIBUTION OF COACH AND MENTOR ALTON CRAFTON OF ST. LUCIA.
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT WHEN A YOUNG MAN RECOLLECTS ABOUT THOSE WHO HELD HIS HANDS AND PONDERS ABOUT WHAT MIGHT THE FUTURE HOLD OF HIM. JUST LIKE IT’S BEAUTIFUL TO IMAGINE ALL THAT GEORGE EDWARD NGEGBA CAN ACHIEVE SHOULD NECESSARY SUPPORT FIND ITS WAY TO ASSIST A MAN WHO LIVES FOR THE GAME HE’S PASSIONATELY SERVING IN AFRICA.
HOW BRILLIANT WILL THAT DAY BE FOR ONE OF SIERRA LEONE’S BEST EXPORTS TO THE GAME, ONE WHO COULDN’T POSSIBLY HAVE CHOSEN A BETTER ROLE MODEL THAN YUVRAJ SINGH?
Note: In 2020, pitted against famous footballs, George won the “Best Sports Man Of The Year Award” In Sierra Leone’s National Entertainment Awards.
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