From very humble beginnings, chess is now gradually becoming a serious sport and is favourably being competed at the international level.
Yet this is a sport that does not get much sponsorship and in most cases, the officials of Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) dig deep in their pockets to organise and sustain tournaments.
What is admirable is also the programme to expose the game to school kids so that they learn the intricacies of this sport at a tender as opposed to earlier arrangement where the youths learnt the sport when they reached secondary school level.
Chessam have a national schools coordinator Margret Ngugama, whose role is to coordinate with teachers in training interested kids. Chessam has sent such kids for international tournament and the recent was the African Schools Chess Championship that took place in Lusaka, Zambia that ended last Saturday.
The representatives were Yebo Sanga in Under-11 and Kezzie Msukwa Jnr. in Under-9. Yebo came 6th out of 11 while Kezzie Jnr, son to Chessam president Kezzi Msukwa, finished 13th.
Chessam failed to secure sponsorship for the tournament and these two were sponsored by their own parents but the president wants to start now in engaging the corporate world and other stakeholders to reserve some funds so that the country can be ably represented in the next year’s African Schools Chess Championship to take place in Namibia.
It’s also a source of inspiration that Chessam initiated a training programme for kids in collaboration with Jungle Pepper pizza restaurant at Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre, where it has produced some players capable to represent Malawi at the international stage.
Chess has survived and reached this level because of sacrifices from many and one of them is Professor David Mkwambiri, owner of Kumudzi Eco Learning Centre situated in Bunda, close to the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), formerly Bunda College of Agriculture.
Mkwambisi sponsored the first major club championship that involved all clubs in all the three regions. Its national finals were held at Kumudzi last Saturday and won by Succhess from the South. Sweeping Pawns from the Centre were second while Mchengautuwa from the North were third.
Mkwambisi, who has also sponsored a district chess championship in Mangochi, promises to sponsor the tourney again next year or even beyond. He must be commended for this support because it will stimulate more youths to take up the sport more seriously because of its visibility through the media.
Congratulations to Chessam, Kumudzi, Jungle Pepper and other sponsors for giving this sport the lifeline it deserves. Don’t get tired with the effort because very soon Malawi shall bring back a gold medal from the international tournaments and possibly have our own grandmaster.
Comments from parents of the kids that are trained at Jungle Pepper are appreciative of this initiative because their children are also doing very well in their academic studies because the sport teaches them to be disciplined in their thoughts.
That’s good news to hear and those parents who were not sure, I can vouch that you shall never go wrong by sending your kids to the Jungle Pepper training sessions that take place every Saturday at Chichiri Shopping Mall at a modest fee of K1,000.
I pray that the stakeholders should consider supporting more tournaments that shall allow the kids to participate in many tournaments so that they get more exposed in order for them to one day bring gold medals from international tournaments.
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