Egwuatu Olisa; sports administrator who as Technical Director of the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) developed cricket in Nigeria. Young Egwuatu after years of active cricket playing caught the attention of Anambra state’s team selectors and he was invited into the state team, where he rose to stardom. He was saddled with the responsibility of developing cricket in Nigeria, a role he played as consultant to the International Cricket Committee (ICC).
Born on March 20, 1965 in Ibadan, Egwuatu grew up in Enugu in a sporting and Christian environment, where the emphasis was on education. His father who was an engineer with the defunct Post and Telecommunications (P&T) favoured education but did not force him to stop his love for sports. While still waiting to get enrolled into primary school, Egwuatu kicked the ball around with his peers during the civil war. He stared for his secondary school’s cricket team in class four, while also playing football. At Women Training College WTC, he took to football and athletics and was prominent in the yearly inter class football competition before he was drafted into the school team. Life started for Egwuatu in 1975, when he left WTC for Government Secondary School, Owerri, where he came in contact with cricket. After leaving the secondary school in 1980, Egwuatu got admission into the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, the following year to study Political Science. It was at UNN that his game blossomed.
After proving himself in the state team, Egwatu played his first National Sports Festival (NSF) at Bendel 1981. The outing fetched him a silver medal in the senior category, while in 1988, he also won silver, losing the final game to Lagos in Rivers State. Egwuatu and his teammates failed to win a medal in the NSF in 1989 in Lagos but he captained the Zone C comprising Imo, Anambra and Enugu to win bronze in Bauchi in 1991. He did his first coaching job at the 1985 edition, when he coached the state intermediate team to win gold in the 1985 edition of the NSF.
Egwuatu was introduced into cricket administration with the chance meeting in 1991 with Dr. Michael Ayivor in Bauchi. Subsequently, he was drafted into the school cricket committee, while also serving in the NNPC school tournament committee. Under the Howzat Foundation for Cricket, he became involved in coaching. Having gained a lot of experience in administration, he became the adviser of Club Cricket Committee League and began to serve in most of the NCF Committees. By 1999, the Howzat Foundation for Cricket had become entrenched in schools in Lagos and Egwuatu started giving cricket courses to games’ masters in schools. Egwuatu conceded he started tilting towards cricket because he realised that it was not a very common game and gave one the aura of respectability[i].
He was in South Africa for a coaching course in 1998 conducted by the South African Cricket board where he bagged the level three certificate, making him the highest ranked coach in Nigeria and Africa outside South Africa and Zimbabwe. He took the Howzat Under-19 team to a tour of England in 2000, took the Howzat Pioneers to a tour of Dubai in 2009, sponsored by Dr John Abebe, and was also the head of the Nigerian team that went on tour of Cheltenham in England.
In the cricket team, Egwuatu’s teammates were Ezendu Benson, Ajuelu Anthony, Okigbo Reginald, Kingsley Nkwocha, Anuforo Anthony, Callistus Egbuawu, Chima Nwogu, Ernest Unogu, Everistus Obiekea and Cyril Opara.
[i] Guardian November 1, 2013