Delta State player Oshevire Avwenagha emerged victorious in the Masters category of the inaugural National Scrabble Diri Gouverneur Championship in Yenagoa on Sunday evening.
The three-day tournament which brought together 300 players in five categories, including masters, intermediates, openings, veterans and students, saw Avwenagha smile with the N500,000 plus trophy at stake.
Raji Kazeem of Oyo State won the Intermediate category while Tariye Alari of host State Bayelsa was the Open winner. Engr. Ojior Osikhena from Edo State won the Veterans category.
The student category was won by 16-year-old Ikoko David of Federal Government College, Odi in Bayelsa State.
Others who won the best woman in different categories were Tuoyo Mayuku, Akpos Malafakumo and Priscillia Akhabue.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, highlighted the place of sport in the development of the State and the country, stressing that it was of a real tool if used correctly.
Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Governor Diri, who congratulated the participants on a successful tournament, noted that the state had contributed a lot to national development through sport.
This, he said, included areas where the state has a comparative advantage like wrestling, boxing and swimming.
Governor Diri noted that scrabble not only develops the mind, but also strengthens the ability to think outside the box.
His words: “Our State has many benchmarks in terms of contribution to national development. We are not only known for oil, but we also have a lot of firsts in terms of sport.
“Sitting with us is a world champion, an Olympian, Daniel Igali. We also have other wrestling champions.
“Scrabble doesn’t just develop the mind. It also develops our ability to think outside the box. For Bayelsa, we looked at four areas for improving our youth, and if your certificate can’t earn you three square meals, your skills should.
“We are ready to upgrade the skills of our younger generation and even our elders. We believe there is no time when you cannot learn something new. Older people can develop skills and be nourished by them. “
Diri stressed that it was his administration’s youth development policy that saw the state take third place at the last National Sports Festival in Benin City.
In his remarks, Youth and Sports Development Commissioner Daniel Igali claimed that the tournament was one of six other international competitions to be held in the state and commended the organizers for a job well made.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Bayelsa State Scrabble Association (BYSA) President Daniel Alabrah thanked Governor Diri for his support which made the tournament a success.
Mr Alabrah, who is also the governor’s senior press secretary, said scrabble has the potential to shine a positive spotlight on Bayelsa with the right motivation and support.