Olatunde Oduwole, the Champion of champions and former national title holder scrabble has so much power effect the desired change on school children and adults.

‘Feekytah’ as he’s called has been speaking on the influence the game can have especially in a country like Nigeria.

Tayo Ogunseye get into a conversation with the ‘Scrabble Enigma’ on what it takes and how he intends to drive the change with his project the Ultimate Scrabble Showdown.

Question: How are you?

Oduwole: I’m good and I’m glad to have this conversation with you.

Question: Who is Olatunde Oduwole?

Oduwole: My name is Olatunde Oluwole, as everybody knows. Nigerian Champion of champions.

I did accounting by profession, and I am one of the seasoned scrabble players in the world and, I am a certified health and social care trainer.

I have gone through the rigors of studies in London Bridge College, 2007, 2008 Cardiff School of Health, and I have practiced being a healthcare trainer over the years before I relocated back to Nigeria.

And coming back to the U.S., as I speak, I have rekindled the old system. The wealth of experience is now counting, and I am here working as a case manager in one of the best health care consultancy.

I’m a scrabble enthusiast, a scrabble champion, a seasoned scrabble player, not just a champion, a lover of scrabble, you know, somebody who understands the game.

Question: Is it true that you have written a book on scrabble?

Oduwole: Yes, I am an author at the same time because I wrote a book for Scrabble called The Scrabble Evolution, just to make sure that I do a kind of developmental structure, you know, creating some kind of mental development in people, young people and old people on knowing how to play the game.

So that’s why I decided to be an author. I took my time. It took me about seven months to write the book.

You know, I am not an English expert, but I am good at writing. I am very, very good at writing, particularly when I am relaxed, you know.

The book was passed by the professional proofreaders and authors.So it is out there. The book is in several African countries. It’s in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Liberia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Gambia, you know.

Although, they are not really in large quantities because I have been having a lot of difficulties printing batches after batches and stuff like that because of the capital structure of the printing.

It is not easy, you know. You will be swabbed by the printers. They are not sincere. You have to commit some other forms in printing them and all that but thank God it is coming back to life because of this new initiative.

Question: We heard something new is coming up on the horizon. What’s it about?

Oduwole: This new initiative came to fruition from going to the hindsight of what has been happening in Nigeria and what I’ve had in mind.

If you recall, in 2019, when I did and when I won NSPC 2019 National Championship, I mean, Champion of Champion Tournament, orchestrated by the Femi Awowade, and the other NSPC planning committee, you know.

I won that tournament (in Benin ) just after being in oblivion for close to about four or five months. When I won the 2018 National Championship, that was stripped of me because of certain skirmishes, connivance, you know, in the tournaments that I had won.

But some negative energies came into play and I was stripped of the tournament. It was painful because that is not me anyway.

I am a guy of integrity and I think that integrity is now showing. There’s a way God fights for you.

That my integrity is showing now and it’s going to show more. People are now going to know the kind of person I am genuinely. I am not doing this to impress people, but this is who I am naturally.

I thank God for today. That is all that I had in those days coming to fruition. I discussed it with you.

I said, I have a particular vision coming from what I had experienced at Godswill Akpabio Classic.

You remember the last Akpabio Classic was the one that was done in Valedictory in 2017.

Something like that in mind to do Scrabble and Nigeria but where is the power? Where is the financial muscle for them to do this?

You can only think of something good if you have a good mind but if you don’t have the resources, enabling environment, you won’t be able to do it.

But for me being a very critical minded person, a meticulous person, I like to take something from the scratch, do research and come gradually from intelligence, from the help of your intelligence and meticulousness and then get to where you’re going.

That’s why I said anything I want to do in terms of Scrabble tournaments must have three big descriptive dimensions: creamy, dreamy and delight.

My tournaments will be creamy, dreamy and delightful.

Let me explain about Creamy tournaments.
The attractiveness, settings, initiatives surrounding it.

The media, social media and normal media boards buzz and lots of other, you know, frenzy, creating delirium amongst people from different parts of the world.

That is what I want for myself because I’ve always been a unique person but some people know.

Some people don’t know but you’ll be waiting for the time of that manifestation of dynamic energy and you know that that manifestation of dynamic energy has to do with kinesis.

Where you unlock the potentials in you into kinetic energies.

So you want to use that opportunity that you have in a particular environment to be able to show this is what you’ve got inside you to people. And at the same time, not exploiting them. But rather adding values to their lives because I have always been into human development.

Yes, people keep thinking, all said and done, the main reason behind this particular initiative is to be able to create a kind of frenzy within youths and even older people, anybody of any kind of age. (You might be 60, you might be 50, you might be 40, you still have a chance to showcase what you’ve got inside of you.

There are some potentials that have been locked inside individuals over the years, but they have not had the opportunity to be able to unleash those potentials, the opportunity for full manifestation of that dynamic energy, you understand?

So that is why I created this initiative. The Ultimate Scrabble Showdown. I have been thinking of it, I have been thinking of it deeply. I have been walking on the ground quietly, you know, waking up at the middle of the night, thinking deeply of what to do to create a kind of delirium in the society, in Scrabble society, within Nigeria, Africa and you know, the entire world of Scrabble.

So with this initiative, which is for the university students, those university students that the few, they thought they have not got anything inside of them, but they have got a lot inside of them.

They should unlock it. They should try and eschew, you know, cheating, misconduct, illicit affairs, social vices and unlock this kind of potential to be able to play good Scrabble and get the rewards for it.

You understand, play good Scrabble, read the books, get to the top, stay at the top and you’ll get the rewards for it.

You are going to be celebrated, you are going to be rewarded, you are going to, you know, define your worth.

That’s why my punchline is to ‘define your worth’ because number one, going to a tournament, you know your worth.

That is why different people come together to lock horns. Eventually, somebody wins, the other person comes second. The next person comes third, fourth and like that.

Maybe in the next tournament, the other person who comes, the person that came fourth in the previous tournament can come first in another tournament or a championship.

It is because he believes that he has to do something so he knows his worth. So when you know your worth, that your worth as being a particular champion in this particular level, come and define that worth with other people that are champions from other levels.

So I am bringing heads together. So that’s why I am trying to do a kind of developmental, you know, a structure, build a developmental structure in the growth of this initiative and the game.

So the next edition will be a kind of competition amongst the champions in Africa. The West African champion, the African champion, the national champion, Nigeria Green Jacket, Nigeria number one, champion from Gambia, champion from Kenya, Ghana. All of them will come together, about 12 of them.

And we will make sure that it is a unique tournament that’s going to be a kind of brand. With the uniqueness, with the creativity, with the, you know, the vibrance, the radiance. Everything, you know, having to do with attractiveness to the entire world.

Question: Will the Ultimate Scrabble Showdown be for Africans alone or are there plans to expand it beyond the continent?

Oduwole: It’s still going to involve the other champions of the world. The Malaysian champion, the Thailand champion, the United Kingdom champion, that is, England champion, American champion.

They will come to Africa and come and define their worth. So it is a tournament where you have done enough work, no problem.

We want to make sure that you come and define your worth. But before you define your worth, get the reward for what you have, what you have attained over the years.

That is why it involves giving appearance fees, free accommodation, free feeding, the dress code according to the brand.

And, you know, they will be showcased to the world. Their faces will be showcased to the world, projected to a particular screen.

They will be briefly introduced to people with their portraits, creative portraits, the kind of portrait crafted for them. Each individual with music, while the individual is coming out with the required music, you know, to place your location for the champion, that particular champion.

It could be a faster champion that’s going to be the next person to be, you know, showcased on the screen and all that. You know, the music with the appearance fee immediately.

All you need to do, get your transportation, itinerary down to the venue. Free accommodation, free feeding, appearance fees, and lots of other attractive prizes. It is as simple as that.

And that is why I want to do something to make sure that while we do that, they will be able to, you know, understand that tournaments can actually be creatively done in different ways from the way people have been organizing tournaments.

So with my own tournaments, with my own initiative, I’m eclectic. I have different methods whereby 12 of them from Africa, that’s going to be next year, come together, six of them, other six, all of them, the 12 of them, they play 21 games.

First, second, and third will be picked, but first and second will go and play best of seven. After playing the initial 21 games, first and second will be best of seven games to know the ultimate Scrabble Showdown champion.

So the next edition, which is going to involve other countries of the world, America, United Kingdom, Asia, they will come, the four champions will join the tour to make it 16.

While eight qualify for quarterfinals, eight are going to be wheeled out. Four qualify for the semi final after playing best of three each.

Then two will play the final, which is going to be best of seven still, not best of five this time. They will play the quarter final, best of three, best of three, and two, (then the emerging champion will be crowned at the end of that Sunday night in the gala night. And that gala night is going to be organized in a different manner from all gala nights.

It’s something that’s going to create that social media frenzy everywhere about what this is. That is what I want to take Scrabble to.So that is the reason behind this initiative. I am starting with these two great champions in Nigeria knowing fully well that they are students and they work so hard.

So let other students also learn from them. They should aspire to be like them so that they can be celebrated and be rewarded tomorrow as well. OK, so now looking at, you’ve just mentioned the two prime players in Africa and in West Africa.

Question: That’s Timilehin Doko and Enoch Nwali. Both of them are taking off this particular edition and what do you think they will be bringing on to the excitement that is expected from this first edition of the Ultimate Scrabble?

They are going to bring delightfulness. And that’s the reason why I had to create that attributes; Creamy, Dreamy and Delight. You know, the challenge is going to be creamy in terms of attractiveness and all that. And the dreamy part of it is that when others watch those guys play, because I believe in those guys, they are going to give their best. Don’t get it twisted.

They cannot play at the maximum capacity required all the time knowing fully well that they are humans. But they have to give their best.

And that’s why there’s going to be live commentaries. There’s going to be simulations of their racks, analysis of their racks, their vision, you know, on the play, about the intelligence, the approach, the endgame techniques, you know, and all sorts of beauties of the game.

There will be live commentaries on that.

And that is why it is first of its kind for Nigerians to be in a particular room and do the commentaries to exact people while they play in a different designated place.

You know, so it is going to be creamy, dreamy and delightful. Those guys, trust me, they are going to bring it.

Question: What should these two top players take into this duel as an advise?

Oduwole: I have told them several times, just continue to read because learning never stops. That’s one thing I believe. You keep reading and reading and reading and reading.

Let me tell you something. I have not played scrabble for almost a year now but do you know I still read?

I still read because I know it’s going to pay off someday.

My job here is Procedure and Performance Assessment Manager while I still train, I multitask.

But I read scrabble so, when these guys continue to read the books and all that, those things that they have not been able to showcase to people before, they might be able to display it at this particular time because of the work, because of the enabling environment, encouragement, different other, you know, attractive platforms, you know, to make them known to the world.

So I want a kind of structure that is going to really define these champions to the world, whether UK champions.

So the kind of publicity that Scrabble has been deprived of over time, I want my own initiative to bring that publicity to an indescribable level in the world.

While I encourage you in a way, I know that you go back to your drawing board and keep working harder and harder. So it’s a message straight to the university students, secondary school students. So developing Scrabble in Nigeria,you just get to see or hear about a certain guy or girl coming out from the blues, like a whirlwind.

That is the new champion. This girl is, you know, making waves right now and all that with the kind of words she plays. This is going to be the platform for that.

Not sitting on your horse and say, oh, scrabble is not just bringing anything. No, it is bringing something and that thing that it is bringing is in a different level and class from me.

That is it. So all of you will now buckle up. Read, aspire to be in that particular situation of this champion. That when you win, you have an opportunity to be blown to the world.

In terms of publicity, you know, that is it.
That is it. It’s as simple as that. Encourage young ones.

There are some old ones that they feel they are getting out of the fold and all that. They’ve not even won anything, but they can still come back and win.

So fundamentally for the young ones, basically for both of them, young ones and the old ones, nobody, everybody put together.

Nobody is separated. Everybody put together. So I’m talking passionately about it because I am happy that it’s coming to fruition
and you can hear about the weakness.

I’ve spoken to you about this. Just imagine years ago that you have not seen this ambition, dreaming of freedom and all that, because I still believe something like Febisola (one of the female top players)can come back to Nigeria one day. And that’s why USS is an incorporated Scrabble brand, Ultimate Scrabble Championship, INC Incorporated.

So apart from you being a champion, other people too can be invited to come and play a particular championship called USS IC. That is Ultimate Scrabble Showdown International Classics,where all players in the world will come and come and play like Godzilla.

If you win one, you come first in one. It’s a life-changing tournament for an individual. So getting the resources together, God willing, Scrabble is going to dictate the pace for other, you know, dying sports.

Yes, these sports too can spring up and do something good to the people. So it is from my own uniqueness. I’m empathetic.

Yes, I’m putting the resources and it has to work. It has to gain its ground. And other people will embrace it and appreciate just for the sake of God, not just particularly because of me, because people are actually dying, you know, sick quickly from not being able to express themselves, talent-wise.

Question: What kind of future do you think the Ultimate scrabble Showdown is going to impact on scrabble development and your expectation?

Oduwole: Somebody like Favor Onazi and some many other people that have not discovered themselves, probably the parents have not got the opportunity to allow their children to showcase themselves, so because of this initiative, my expectation is to reach out to different households and bring them out from those households.

Let them all come out like the whirlpool. Where are the guys, this is what is happening to scrabble and all that, that excitement, moment of amazement and delirium, that they have to go and read, so that is my expectation for the development.

It is actually developing each other and when each household is being promulgated and known to the world, you realize that the name of their families are going to be forever in the annals of the history of the championship.

To help households rediscover themselves in spite of the hardship, that is why I said don’t disappear, always continue to strive harder. It is sending a message to upcoming people and people who are there but have not discovered themselves.

Don’t forget, failure is an opportunity to tell people to begin again. I feel people if you feel you have failed is always an opportunity to start again.

I am using this platform to tell people to continue to forge on, do not despair so that at the end of the day you have story to tell people behind you and even people before you can learn.
People must know that if you are 35 or 36, you can still be a world champion, so if you feel scrabble that I have tried and I am getting it right when a particular platform is there encouraging that please continue to read.

I am working assiduously on how the winner would be endorsed by a blue chip company irrespective of the business of the company. So the resources we will amass over time will also help to be able to express forward.

Question: Are there plans to take Ultimate Scrabble Showdown beyond the board?

Oduwole: Yes.I want to ensure that we take scrabble to the orphanages and then do what we have to do and then encourage the children of the orphan home. Don’t be surprised if a world champion might come from there tomorrow.

Don’t be surprised that there are a lot of great talents in the orphanages, that is my aim. I want to bring talents out of unexpected areas. The preparation is going and I bet you it is going to be classic.

Question: It was great talking with you.

Oduwole: Thanks


By News Connect Online

News Connect Online is a grassroot advocacy news platform established to promote development and peace through efficient and effective reportage across all beats. Beat: Education, Entertainment Environment Energy Business Health, Sport, Foreign News, Advocacy, Tourism, Transportation

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