As the Sports Minister/Chairman, National Sports Commission, NSC Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio begins move to reduce concentration on football in the country, a call has been made to return the game of scrabble to the National Sports Festival.
Managing Director of Dannoff Nigeria Limited, official sponsorship consultant to the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, NSF, Ibukun Faloye who made the call in Lagos said that the game of scrabble is the only sport in the country that is dominant in Africa, with Nigeria winning eight out of the nine competitions held in the continent so far.
â€œWe have won eight out of nine African championships since 1994. We came second only once to South Africa in the 2002 edition held in Nairobi, Kenya. A sport like that should not be scrapped from the National Sports Festival. Instead it should be pushed to become a scoring event in the All Africa Games and Commonwealth Games to deliver medals for Nigeria,â€ he said.
According to Faloye, Nigerian scrabble players are the only players from Africa who attend the annual international Course Way Scrabble Challenge in Malaysia because Nigeria is the only Africa country in the top eight in the world with a world ranking of four.
He used the opportunity to commend Alfred Temile and the Shell Scrabble Club in Warri for the sponsorship of the scrabble tournament meant for the Niger Delta because it is a way to fight the youth restiveness in the region.
â€œScrabble has a subtle way of refining bad children and keeping those interested in the sport from crime. It is a way of curbing restiveness and crime in our society,â€he said.
He said with adequate sponsorship, going for tournaments abroad will not be stressful for players, stressing that Wellington Jighere who represented the country in Malaysia last year had to pay over N300,000 for his flight ticket even as a university student.
Faloye, who won bronze and gold medals in the Masters event in scrabble for Ondo State at the National Sports Festival in Abuja in 2004 and Ogun (Gateway Games) in 2006, said that â€œNigeria has a massive comparative advantage in the game of scrabble at international championships and all our current international players were developed through the scrabble federation here.â€
He said that if a token from the billions approved for football each year is given to scrabble and other sports, the country will reap benefits from them in Africa and globally.