Triumphant Super Scrabble Eagles return to Nigeria in style as new African King, Nwali calls for more support from Nigerians
By Ifeanyi Eduzor
Members of the victorious Super Scrabble Eagles of Nigeria returned to the country on Wednesday via Kenya Airways in style.
The team of fifteen players and four officials touched down at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport Lagos 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 Liasion office Nkana Mbora.
All 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 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. It was not easy, the field in Lusaka, Zambia was tough and I give God all the glory.”
The 300 level Health Education student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) who joined the Scrabble family in 2011, stated that the game has what it takes to grow in the country and take the youth off all forms of 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.
“We have 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 encourage more kids to take up the sport as a career. And you know we have lots of inteligent 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.” The player fondly called Cohen stressed.
In the same vain, the President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Engineer Toke Aka, explained that the Federation will continue to do it’s 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 the Universities. All the various games and Championships have scrabble in it’s 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 turned 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 raise the bar beyond their reach.
“Before we left for the Championship, I said, the Kenyans are our biggest opponent and they truly gave us a good 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.
Head Coach of Super Scrabble Eagles, Prince Sir Anthony Ikolo, who has 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.
“Am very happy for him, in 2019, he came close to the world title and in Accra, he nearly captured the West African Championship and now, his time has come and many more will surely follow the drummer boy Enoch Tochukwu Nwali called Cohen. The national coach concluded.
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 it 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 to 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 into the new event in the calendar of the African Scrabble body.
Newstap.com understands that a vast number of President, Adekoyejo Adegbesan Associates in some multi- national companies and other cooperate bodies are willing to come on board to propel the game of Scrabble in Nigeria and Africa.
The huge attendance at this year’s African Scrabble Championship is a pointer to what the new boss of the game is capable of bringing to the table.
In his bid to rekindle the game in Africa, Adegbesan helped and encouraged some countries and players to make the trip to Lusaka.
It will interest you to know that, he pulled 9 votes to defeat the incumbent President Mohammed Kamara of Sierra Leone who had just 1 vote to become the new President of PANASA for the next two years.
Adegbesan is 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 who has already hit the ground running 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 of the West African Championship in Ghana in May this year.
Most passionate faithfuls of the game of words and mind will not forget his detailed reportage of game 31 on table 1 between Nwali and Jighere at the African Scrabble Championship in Lusaka, Zambia. That reporting is a hollow mark of an expert in the game.
Adegbesan told our correspondent in Lagos shortly on arrival from Zambia that the signage among the clubs, players and officials in Nigeria and the rest of the continent will be effectively utilized to raise the standard of the sport.
”It’s good that you have seen my election manifesto and all promises I made to my African brothers as far as the game of Scrabble is concerned shall be fulfilled.
These are some of the things the new PANASA President plans to do for the game in Africa and he has started already with the African Youth Championship in South Africa next year.
According to him, some of his plans includes building a PANASA website and establishing a physical PANASA officeto to be located in Lagos, Nigeria with a full compliment of staff to help activate other plans and programs of PANASA.
He also plan to start a rating system for PANASA, establish email address for member countries, building capacity across Africa through workshops, Increase funding by seeking out new sponsorship opportunities, Promote youth participation in Scrabble, Introduction of African Youth Championships which it’s first edition comes up next year in South Africa with Vodacom as it sponsor, organising African Scrabble Championship and regional events as well as updating PANASA constitution and its equipment.