The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has applauded the national scrabble team who returned from Nairobi, Kenya after winning the World English Language Scrabble Championship back-to-back.
Dalung said with this result, the World English Language Scrabble has relocated from Europe to Nigeria.
“I congratulate the Scrabble Federation for again making Nigeria proud by re-enacting their status and commitment to the game of scrabble.
“Last year, your historic feat of placing the map of Nigeria on the world of scrabble where for the first time in black history, a black man emerged as a world champion. That was celebrated by not only Nigerians but the government of Nigeria who received the champion.
“Two years down the line, we are here again to celebrate another success with greater improvement and participation . I dare to say that scrabble has relocated from its traditional home in Europe and is now domesticated in Nigeria.”
The minister thanked the team for their selflessness and belief in Nigeria and promised that government will continue to support the game of scrabble and fund their activities within the limited resources available. He also used the occasion to call on the National Assembly to allocate more funds to sports in Nigeria.
“In the last two years, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has done better than any ministry because we have brought glory to Nigeria more than any ministry. If this is the situation, then we need more funds. A situation where federations that have made the country proud have a yearly budgetary allocation of only N30million or N40million which cannot even fund one trip in some cases, is unacceptable. We have over stretched the commitment of our people because members of the federation have been contributing their personal money to sponsor trips.”
The minister appealed to the private sector to adopt some athletes and sponsor their training to relieve government of some of the burden and also called on the scrabble federation to embark on a massive advocacy of the game by taking scrabble to secondary and primary schools and tertiary institutions to identify young talents.
In his response, the President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation Alhaji Suleiman Garba Gora thanked the sports ministry for supporting their trip to Kenya by giving the team the financial approval.
“We are here to show appreciation and to inform you of the patriotism of these individuals who have made a lot of sacrifices while in camp for four months. We are making history for the second time since you were sworn in. This time, we went to Nairobi and did better than before in terms of national placement.
“This is the first country in the world and the only black country to have won this championship back to back. We went there as the world champion in terms of country representation and also on individual basis.”
54 countries took part in the championship with 169 players. In scrabble, the top 15 players are considered for winning positions and Nigeria had five players on the list of top 15.