Dadaz Academy founder Namangale engaged as Gift of Chess ambassador to distribute donated 1,000 chess sets

Former Chess Association Malawi (CHESSAM) president, Susan Namangale, who is founder of Dadaz Academy, has been engaged as Gift of Chess ambassador to distribute 1,000 chess sets which the international charity donated to Malawi.

Namangale said the consignment has already arrived in the country ready for distribution and she is mobilising a team accordingly to distribute the chess boards across the country.

Namangale and her Dadaz Chess Academy

“So far, we have recruited 20 volunteers across Malawi for this program,” she said. “This is a big push to popularize the game of chess in Malawi.

“I will be working with all stakeholders including CHESSAM, Malawi Schools Sports Association (MASSA), the prisons and orphanages who can benefit from this gift.”

“CHESSAM will receive 100 chess sets while the rest will be distributed by our volunteers across the country.”

She disclosed that Gift of Chess — a global sports charity that is transforming lives through its universal language of chess — recruits ambassadors in each country for the chess project and Namangale was identified after meeting the founder, Russell Makofsky when she attended Chess for Freedom conference in Chicago, USA.

Namangale, who is Zone 4.5 president, went to attend the Chess for Freedom conference using her resources and in turn the sacrifice earned her amazing networks including that included meeting Gift of Chess founder Makofsky — whom she sat next to the during the conference.

The consignment that’s already been shipped into the country

On her return Namangale explained that they had a long chat thereafter and agreed on partnering towards her own charity through Dadaz Academy which launched a chess in prison program in Malawi at Maula Prison last year

Through her experience when she visited Cook County Sheriff, USA’s second largest prison — where she was accorded an honour of appreciating Chess in Prison program being initiated through Chess for Freedom — Namangale now has plans to extend it to other penitentiaries after the success of the initiative at Maula.

Namangale reiterated that Chess in Prison is a great tool to improve the quality of life for prisoners as they prepare for liberation, saying, among the sports programs, inmates participate in international online chess games and once it is being passionately played in Malawi prisons, it can be initiated for inmates to also participate in local international online tournaments.

The Gift of Chess founder, Russell Makofsky (centre)

She also emphasized that chess in prison program at Maula Prison is doing very well and she thus plans to replicate it to other prisons, which she initiated with partnership with founder of Uthunthu Ministries, Caswell Mkanda — who implements prison activities including provision of food and skills development who are doing other services in prisons including skills development.

On its website — also shared on the International Chess Federation, FIDE — the charity explains that it distributes chess sets for free to leverage chess as a low-cost but high-impact catalyst for opportunity and its key initiatives include education, prison, and refugee outreach.

To date it has manufactured over 75,000 chess sets for global distribution, saying: “Our goal is to distribute 1 million chess sets by 2030.

The website explains that the process to initiate the charity began in March 2019 when a Nigerian refugee named Tanitoluwa Adewumi, who was living in a homeless shelter at the time, won the New York State Chess Championship, just a little over a year after learning the game.

“His success caught the attention of a New York Times columnist, and shortly after, Tani’s story went viral, touching the hearts of millions around the world,” said the website. “Thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of support, Tani’s family was able to move out of the shelter and into a home.”

The founder Makofsky, is a chess coach for Impact Coaching Network, who got inspired by Tanitoluwa Adewumi’s story, saying his “enormous talent and potential became apparent to everyone thanks to chess, and the game proved itself of great value as an ultimate equalizer, a shared universal language that can help expand opportunities for all”.

When the pandemic hit New York in 2020, Makofsky decided to use chess for community building, giving everyone an opportunity to learn chess and benefit from the many life skills the game cultivates.

Partnering ChessKid, Impact Coaching Network provided a free account and virtual training lessons to every student at PS 42, composed mostly of working-class immigrant families in Chinatown. Chess helped keep them engaged while they were confined to their apartments. is quoted as saying within a few months, the school led the entire network in puzzles, lessons, and videos completed on the platform and that driven by the enthusiasm demonstrated by their students, the principal at the school asked coach Makofsky about the possibility of giving every kid their own physical chess set.

Makofsky managed to procure the sets from a friend, and he was left thinking: “Why not escalate this?” — thus The Gift of Chess was born in

early 2021 with the goal of distributing 10,000 chess sets to public students across New York City.

“With children confined to their apartments and spending most of their time on screens, the organization hoped to rekindle their love for chess and allow families and friends to connect over a physical chessboard.

“Over the next few months, the organization raised money from members of the local chess community to support the purchase of the sets. In June, the 10,000 sets arrived in New York, and members of The Gift of Chess team visited schools around Manhattan and Brooklyn to distribute them.”

The report further said the initial board of the Gift of Chess included founders Russell Makofsky, Tyrone Davis III and Ian West, but has now been expanded to include Rochelle Ballantyne, Michael Shuman, Ryan Rodrigues, and Tunde Onakoya of ‘Chess in Slums’ in Nigeria.

In March, the Gift of Chess launched its first global initiative when its board member and president of the MIT Chess Club, Tyrone Davis III, travelled to Lagos with 500 chess sets in tow to distribute in partnership with Tunde and Chess in Slums.

Makofsky is quoted as saying: “A bridge had been built between the slums of Lagos and a chess community in New York who deeply cared about spreading the game they loved and the fate of children halfway around the world.

“Tunde and Tyrone squeezed the 10 boxes of boards and pieces into Tunde’s truck and set off to distribute them and the next day, the two men visited Makoko, the world’s largest floating slum, where Chess in Slums had already established a strong presence.

“Tyrone brought 100 sets to three different schools there, where he had the opportunity to introduce some of the students to chess and play together and share tactics with others who were already familiar with the game.”

Over the coming months, in addition to expanding its youth education and global outreach efforts, The Gift of Chess announces that it has plans to officially launch its prison outreach and elderly outreach initiatives.

The organization hopes chess will offer prisoners a positive way to spend their free time, the chance to improve their decision-making skills, and ultimately aid in rehabilitating and reintegrating back into society.

For the elderly, the Gift of Chess believes the game can combat social isolation and loneliness and mitigate the effects of cognitive decline and dementia. The Gift of Chess has also recently launched a free chess training application available on both iOS and Android to connect its global community.

Dadaz Chess Academy was primarily initiated with a quest to groom prodigies all over the country to promote the sport at grassroots and help Malawi become a strong chess playing nation.

The Academy so far has 3 centres in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Nkhotakota and it has big plans to reach out to the youths and make chess popular amongst school going children.

Namangale maintains that chess is an important tool to build strategic leaders of tomorow and an important tool for mindset change, which is an enabler in MW2063 development blueprint.

Namangale wrote history in Malawi in 2018 when she became the first woman president of the sport and rewrote if by being the first female chess federation president in Africa.

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