By Albert Akota
Despite the fear of Ebola virus in Nigeria, the Current World Scrabble Champion Nigel Richards of Switzerland has confirmed his participation for the 8th Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics.
The event which will kick off at Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio Hall Udo Udoma, Uyo on Wednesday September 24 will also see the participation of former world champions and other foreign stars from UK, USA, Pakistan, Thailand, New Zealand, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa and other foreign athletes.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday ahead of the event, president Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Suleiman Gora, said if not the fear of Ebola virus it would have be unprecedented in the history of scrabble championships the number of foreign players that will turnout for the 8th edition annual Godswill Akpabio International Classic.
“Even though the issue of Ebola virus scare away a lot of foreign players, the world champions, Nigel Richard will be here. We also have players coming from Kenya and other African countries, USA, UK, Pakistan, Thailand and so on. We have received of a lot notes from many foreign players confirming their participation.
“If not for the Ebola crisis, the foreign presence would have been enormous because a lot of them want to participate. You can see that despite the Ebola crisis in Africa, we still have world champions and some of other foreign players want to come and participate. This is enough testimony to the level we have taken the Akpabio Classics to, thanks to His Excellency Governor Godswill Akpabio’s commitment to the development of the game worldwide,” he said.
According to him, this year’s competition has been package to give Godswill Akpabio a grand tournament to mark his eight years ‘uncommon transformation’ administration as executive governor of Akwa Ibom State. He said wining prize for this year event has also be increase to $22, 000 for master category, $10, 000 for intermediate and $9, 000 each for both open and veteran categories respectively.
In addition to the Nigerian players that will troop into Uyo for the classics, over 50 foreign-based players have so far registered for the event that will see competitions in Masters, Veterans, Intermediate and Opens categories.