Identifying and nurturing young players continues to remain a focus throughout the Scrabble world as a means of ensuring long term viability of the competitive Scrabble scene.
Two recent events provide a positive outlook for the game.
In the UK, Sumbul Siddiqui organized a tournament at the Westminster Academy with 20 students in attendance. The quality of Scrabble on display was impressive - as Sumbul noted “an exceptional show of skills from some of the young ones. If they are providing such opportunities to polish up their skills even further, I’m sure they will excel at the international level.”
The UK is the home country of the 2014 World Youth Scrabble Champion, Jack Durand, and is also the host country for the 2018 Junior World Scrabble Championship.
UK competitor group photo
Youth tournament in action in Kenya
Meanwhile, in Kenya, the National Youth Championship provided qualification opportunities for the WESPA Youth Cup and took place at the Mpesa Foundation Academy. According to local media, St. Mary’s Burumba Ian Otieno was victorious; he now leads a team of 10 players from Kenya when they take part in the Cup at Dubai in December. From the same article, Kenya’s Muema Muumbi is quoted as saying “We have a very strong team to take on the world. We will work with the sports ministry and education ministry to prepare the team for the Championship. Looking at the performance of the top players today the future is bright for Scrabble development in the country”
Events like the Junior World Championship and WESPA Youth Cup are but two of the opportunities for young players that form part of the WESPA rated tournament calendar. Thailand’s Princess Cup and ASCI (held in Malaysia) are also focused on younger players and are other prominent examples.
WESPA has a Youth Committee which is dedicated to including more young people in top-level competitive Scrabble worldwide. Its ultimate vision is to see youth players competing alongside adults in open events. Along the way, it hopes to gradually change the perception of Scrabble as just an older people's game.
Additional content with thanks to Sumbul Siddiqui and Muema Muumbi