Wellington Jighere, the 2015 world scrabble champion, on Monday in Abuja said Federal Government’s support for the game of scrabble was necessary because it would boost tourism in Nigeria.

Jighere told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that scrabble as a sport has the potential to drive tourism in Nigeria. He added that Nigeria as a nation stands to gain a lot from the scrabble sport as a tool to drive tourism.

“Scrabble can also be used to engage our teeming population productively, amongst other things,” Jighere said.

He lamented the fact that sports tourism was an opportunity Nigeria has not leveraged upon in spite of playing host to several tournaments over the years.

The former world scrabble number one said with adequate support and sponsorship, sports tourism would generate lots of earnings for Nigeria.

He however said one major challenge of sports in Nigeria was funding, adding that sports such as scrabble lack sponsorship in spite of the many achievements they have recorded.

“With a little support from government and corporate bodies, we can easily transform this noble sport to an endeavour that our dear nation can be identified with.

“We are already famed for being the number one scrabble-playing nation in the world.

“Our government can capitalise on this to transform our dear nation to become the scrabble capital of the world, and also become a beacon for educational advancement on this continent,’’ Jighere said.

He disclosed that he planned to organise three scrabble tournaments this year, even though he admitted that the rate of preparation had been low.

“Preparations are slow at the moment. I actually planned on hosting not just one this year but several.

“It is my hope that I will be able to organise a minimum of three tournaments before the year runs out.

“The major challenges are linked to sponsorship. The other time I organised a tournament, I ended up financing the project almost entirely by myself in spite of having lots of encouragement from supposed partners,” the former world champion said.

NAN reports that Nigeria, through the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, has won the best scrabble-playing nation title back to back and is also the current African champion.(NAN)