From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Government has restated its determination to use sports to develop skills and talents of youths in the state.
Governor Douye Diri who made this known over the weekend at the closing ceremony of the Governor Diri Maiden Scrabble Competition in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, stated that Bayelsa has over the years recorded landmark achievements and contributed to sports development of the country.
Diri who was represented by the deputy-governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, stressed the need to establish a scrabble club in schools across the state to catch young talents.
Ewhrudjakpo seized the opportunity of the event to vow that Bayelsa would challenge Delta and Edo States at the 2022 National Sports Festival for the top place.
According to him scrabble which develops the mind of players would be accorded priority alongside other individual sports that earn multiple medals at major competitions such as the National Sports Festival and the Olympics.
The Commissioner for Youth and Sport Development, Daniel Igali said the goal of the State government was to make Bayelsa the hub of sports in the country through the hosting of competitions.
President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, Suleiman Gora who expressed appreciation to Governor Douye Diri for sponsoring the championship, urged the State government to encourage the development of the game in schools across the State.
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Scrabble Association, Daniel Alabrah said scrabble could be used as a veritable vehicle to positively promote the State.
Over 300 players participated in five categories: Masters, Intermediate, Open, Schools and Veterans in the three day maiden Governor Douye Diri National Scrabble Championship held at the Harold Dappa Biriye Conference Centre, Onopa, in the Bayelsa state capital with winners going home with trophies and cash prizes.
Oshevire Avwenagha of Delta State emerged winner of the Masters category of the Scrabble tournament after recording 11 wins with a plus 617 cumulative spread to win the trophy and N500,000 prize money.
Avwenagha who is ranked third in the country topped two other Delta State players, Eta Karo who is ranked second and finished in second position and Okiemute Tegha who came third, expressing elation over his achievement.
Raji Kazeem of Oyo State won the Intermediate category competition while Tariye Alari of Bayelsa was winner in the opens event, just as Engineer Odion Osikada came tops in the Veterans category.
The students’ title was clinched by 16 -year old Ikoko David of Federal Government College, Odi, Bayelsa State who edged 8 –year- old prodigy, Deborah Quickpen.
Others who won in respective categories were Tuoyo Mayuku, Akpos Malafakumo, and Priscillia Akabue.