The maiden international Draughts tournament between Nigeria and Ghana opened in Benin in Edo state on Friday featuring 43 players.
At the opening of the three-day tournament, the government expressed readiness to partner relevant stakeholders to promote the game of draught as a counting sports both at the national and international level.
Draught is a game played by two people, each with 12 round pieces, on a board of 64 squares.
Mr Mika Amonokhai, the state commissioner for Sports and special duties, made the commitment when he opened the game.
Amonokhai, who described the game of draught as “ physically and mentally engaging sports,” can become a national sports in the Nigerian sports’ calendar..
“That is why as a government, we are ready to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to see to the registration and promotion of this sports to the highest level.
“I am also assuring the organizers of this tournament that Edo state ministry of sports, under my watch, is ready to partner the organizers, to make the best of the event.
“Only last week, the state hosted an intentional female soccer tournament, and today, i am also here to declare open, an international draught tournament.
“The state government will give its support through the process of registration of the sports into our national sports calendar.
“It’s a possibility and once the initiative is activated, we will give it all the needed push. we can start with school’s sports and see its progression,” he said.
Earlier, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, chairman, organizing committee, said organizers decided to use the tournament to erase the erroneous belief that the game of draught was “for lazy people and jobless in society.
“Rather, this is one of the most intelligent, strategic and physically engaging sports in the world,” he said.
The tournament would feature two categories namely the premier division for grand masters and division one for champions with the first prize money being N500,000
While 43 players will feature in the premier category, 16 players will participate in the champions division.