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Heroes welcome greets Nigeria’s Scrabble Team

The triumphant Super Scrabble Eagles of Nigeria, are back to the country, in style after dominating the rest of Africa, with, Enoch Nwali, the new African King of Scrabble calling for more support by way of funding from Corporate Nigeria and well-meaning individuals.

The victorious contingent, flew back home aboard Kenya Airways into Lagos, last Wednesday.

The team of fifteen players and four officials touched down at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport Lagos at about 11:30 am to the warm embrace of a strong cast of media team and Ministry of Youth and Sports officials led by the head of the Lagos office, Miss Nkana Mbora.

Dressed in the traditional green and a splash of white, the team had an elaborate photo session and media chat before heading to The Place at Isaac John street, Ikeja GRA for a sumptuous lunch.

Speaking to the media shortly after arrival, the new African Scrabble Champion, Enoch Tochukwu Nwali said, “it’s a dream come true, I have been preparing, studying and praying for this victory, which was not easy”.

The 300-level Health Education student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) who joined the Scrabble family in 2011, stated that the game have what it takes to grow in the country and take the youth off all forms of crime and social vices.

“The Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) is doing a lot to develop the sports but we need more Government support as well as the cooperate bodies to turn their focus on the sports.” The African King added.

According to Nwali, Nigeria as a country has got top quality players who can serve as brand ambassadors to any of the companies in the country and that will go a long way in motivating the players and encouraging more kids to take up the sport as a career.

The player fondly called Cohen stressed, “and you know we have a lot of intelligent young ones who just need a little bit of some push and they will blossom and bring glory not just to their family but the country at large.”

In the same vein, the President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Engineer Toke Aka, explained that the Federation will continue to do its very best to lift the sport of Scrabble in all ramifications.

“As we speak the game is played in secondary schools, the polytechnic, colleges of education and Universities. All the various games and Championships have scrabbled in its fold but we will not relent until the game gets to all schools and homes in Nigeria.” The Kogi State-born Water Engineer stated.

The former cricketer turns Scrabble guru and administrator, explained that other African countries are working very hard to catch up with Nigeria but they’re ready and willing to commit themselves to raising the bar beyond their reach.

“Before we left for the Championship, I said, Kenya’s are our biggest opponent and they truly gave us a fight, for the first time in the history of the African Scrabble Championship, they had four players in the top ten out of the 28 that accompanied them to Zambia.” Aka narrated.

The head Coach of Super Scrabble Eagles, Prince Sir Anthony Ikolo, who has always predicted all the past Nigerian winners of the African Scrabble Championship says, the Almighty God shall equally reveal to him the 2024 winner of the event which holds in Sierra Leone.

“Yes I knew it will be hard but I was certain a Nigerian that’s Enoch Tochukwu Nwali will take it and after game 27 the coast was clear for Nwali to emerge,” Ikolo said.

Another Nigerian who was very elated about the sweet and impressive outing of Team Nigeria in Lusaka is the newly elected President of the Pan African Scrabble Association (PANASA), Adekoyejo Adegbesan.

Adegbesan who was elected on Sunday in Lusaka, Zambia during the Congress of the Continental Governing Body of the game of Scrabble told journalists on arrival on Wednesday that Nigeria will continue to dominate the game for a very long time to come.

“Since 2015 when we won the World Championship through Wellington Jighere, the country has not looked back and we hope to maintain and with the secretariat of the continent fully in Nigeria we will work to develop Scrabble at all levels.” The new PANASA President, Adegbesan said.

The man who is affectionately called the Sheikh by scrabble players, followers and supporters will be returning to the southern tip of the continent next month firm up plans and arrangements for the maiden edition of the African Youth Scrabble Championship to be hosted by South Africa next year.

The PANASA President, further explained that a leading telecom company, Vodacom is already keying in into the new event in the calendar of the African Scrabble body.

It may interest you to know that, he pulled 9 votes to defeat the incumbent President Mohammed Kamara of Sierra Leone who had just 1 vote, and he will be on the saddle as the new President of PANASA for the next two years.

Adegbesan becomes the fourth Nigerian to be elected President of PANASA since 1994.

Retired, General Gold Eburu, was the first Nigerian to lead the continental body of the game of words and mind.

The current President of Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Engineer Toke Aka, headed PANASA from 2002 to 2014, and after him Suleiman Gora the immediate past President of the NSF took over till 2018.

The new PANASA President is a household name in the game of Scrabble in Nigeria.

He is also the Chairman of Ogun State Scrabble Association (OSSA). Since he was appointed, the Ogun State Scrabble Association (OSSA) Chairman, he has given the sport a major face-lift.

Adegbesan is also a Scrabble Club owner and one of the brains behind Mind Games Incorporated (MGI), a private initiative that has added some fillips to the game in Nigeria and he is also a tournament director.

He has directed a host of Scrabble Championships including the maiden edition is the West African Championship in Ghana in May this year.

Congratulatory messages

Meanwhile, messages of Congratulations have continued to pour in for Enoch Johnson Nwali, the newly crowned African Champion.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, led the plaudits, following the exploits of Nwali, who braved the odds to emerge champion of the 14th edition of the African Senior Scrabble Championship (ASC) concluded on Monday, 24th October, in Lusaka, Zambia.

In a statement released in Abuja, the Minister also congratulated Adekoyejo Adegbesan who was elected President of the Pan Africa Scrabble Association (PANASA) on the eve of the finale, after he defeated the incumbent Muhamed Kamara, of….

Nwali, who won the coverted title for the first time, defeated his closest rival and compatriot Wellington Jighere in a tightly contested Round 31, and on arrival in Nigeria, he told sports journalists in Lagos that he is still basking in the euphoria of taking the title, on just his second attempt, by defeating a former World Champion.

Nwali, a third year undergraduate of Health Education in University of Lagos, won 25.5 games with a cumulative score of 2023 to finish overall first, ahead of Jighere and two time African Champion, Prince Omosefe.

Dare praised the trio for doing Nigeria proud by claiming all three podium spots, in men’s Senior Scrabble, on the African Continent.

The Minister further reiterated his commitment to supporting the Nigeria Scrabble Federation to take the sport, otherwise called mind games, to greater heights.

“It is so reassuring to see younger Nigerians participating and excelling at this game; if we can get the proper investment and focus, Nigeria can dominate this game kfor the next 20 years or more”.

“On our part, we will continue to provide the support we can. Mind games are great for intellectual growth of our youth and we will give it the very best we can.

Finally, the new President of the Pan Africa Scrabble Association (PANASA), Adekoyejo Adegbesan have paid glowing tribute to Prince Olabatoke Aka, the President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, for his untiring effort in growing the Sport, in the Country, the ECOWAS Sub-Region.

Speaking exclusively to Radio Nigeria Sports, Adegbesan said with the experience of people like Aka behind him, he is sure the African continent will continue to be a force under his leadership.

Roll Call of Former African Senior Champions

1994 – Iffy Onyeonwu (NGR 🇳🇬) in Kenya

1996 – Femi Awowade (NGR 🇳🇬) in Nigeria

1998 – Wale Fashina (NGR 🇳🇬) in South Africa

2000 – Moshood Sanni (NGR 🇳🇬) in Ghana

2002 – Trevor Hovelmeier (RSA 🇿🇦) in Kenya

2004 – Dennis Ikekeregor (Nig) in Tanzania

2006 – Dennis Ikekeregor (NGR 🇳🇬) in Nigeria

2008 – Jighere Wellington (NGR 🇳🇬) in Kenya

2010 – Jighere Wellington (NGR 🇳🇬) in Ghana

2012 – Rex Ogbakpa (NGR 🇳🇬) in Zambia

2014 – Etim Nsikak (NGR 🇳🇬) in South Africa

2016 – Ayorinde Saidu (NGR 🇳🇬) in Ghana

2018 – Moses Peter (NGR 🇳🇬) in Kenya

2022 – Enoch Nwali (NGR 🇳🇬) in Zambia.