Nigeria’s players have gained superlatives from South Africa’s Scrabble Federation president, Andrew Goldberg, following their emergence as winners of this year’s World English Scrabble Players Association Championship (WESPAC).
Goldberg admitted he was impressed to the see the Nigerian players again prove their mettle in the game of wordsmiths, as they combined their talents and intelligence to emerge overall tops at this year’s championship in India.
It is a return to the same podium they held four years ago, when they won the same title in 2015, with Nigeria again going home with the Best Team trophy, after finishing tops among a pool of 30 countries that were represented by 145 players.
Nigeria featured 11 players, among which two were ranked fifth and 10th at the competition, in which the national coach, Prince Anthony Ikolo also showed his competence by winning the 2019 Indian International Scrabble Open during the same schedule.
The coach admitted he was proud of the team’s achievement, especially as he recalled that they all had to make various forms of personal and collective sacrifices to make the trip possible, then went on to prove doubters wrong by edging aside better exposed and adequately motivated top teams en route to reclaiming the global title once again.
Ikolo said: “This feat has put Nigeria in the world map again as the best scrabble-playing nation in the world. The achievement was based on the commitment of the players and officials. We thank Nigerians and everybody who made the trip possible. It was tough but we succeeded … beating top countries in the world was not easy.”
Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) president, Suleiman Gora also commended the team, as he went on to declare that their performance was another historic achievement for the country, then thanked the coaches and players for making it possible.
Gora added: “My special congratulations to all members of the Nigerian Scrabble team in India. I am very proud of your performances. It was not easy getting there and playing to this level with little resources. Ojior, Gbenga, Jack and Mbagwu God bless you all. Toke and Ikolo and the entire team thanks and congratulations. We are proud of the team.”
Also speaking in recognition of the Nigerian team’s feat in India, Goldberg said his country needs to emulate the approach of the champions, and implored all schools in South Africa to start the process of grooming word talents.
Goldberg said: “Grooming talent from school level has paid off for Nigeria, which has taken the Best Team trophy at the World Scrabble Championship in Goa, India. The country is known as a leading Scrabble-playing nation. Its best players are sponsored, playing the game at school.”