Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) says lack of technological resources is one of their biggest challenges when it comes to developing children at grass roots level. Chess has over the years been one of the best performing sporting codes in the country. BCF have also produced some of the most feared chess players in the region such as International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, Candidate Master (CM) Thabo Gumbo, Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis and Naledi Marape amongst many others.
Recently BCF President Mothokomedi Tlhabano was voted Best Sports Administrator of the year at the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) awards. However local players tend to struggle when playing international tournaments especially against European and Asian opposition. According to BCF Development Director Michael Mbaiwa this is because local players are not exposed to the use of technology from an early age.
He said this over the weekend after hosting a successful Debswana Rebabonaha Youth Chess Championships in Francistown. “We held the youth championships this past weekend in Francistown, the tournament went really well. The tournament is for players aged 8-18 years and the primary purpose for such a tournament is to nature them while their still young. This is the same platform that produced players such as Providence Oatlhotse and Naledi Marape,” Mbaiwa told Gazette Sport.
“We have two centres of development, one in Gaborone and the other is in Francistown, so this tournament was hosted by the Francistown center of development. We had 131 students from across the country, which is really an impressive number,” he added. Quizzed on some of the challenges faced with the process of developing future chess greats, he said that technology is one lacking aspect in many local players game.
“Chess worldwide has evolved and it requires more technology, which is very costly. The use of laptops and other technological gadgets is now necessary. We need to get these kids exposed to using such devices at an early age. The challenge is that not all of them can afford these equipments, it is only a few parents who are able to buy such for their kids, this Is why you will find that most players really struggle when playing in international tournaments, they only come across such technology in these tournaments while their opponents have been using them from a very early age. We are however trying to address these challenges, we will soon be hosting a coaching clinic for our coaches and one of the major topics is the use of technology in chess. We have hired an expert to come and educate our coaches and we believe that this will go a long way in improving our kids,” he reiterated. In conclusion Mbaiwa said with the right structure and support system it can only take four years to produce the country’s first ever Grand Master, which is the highest ranking in the sport of chess.