PREPARATIONS for this year’s edition of the African Schools Individual Chess Championships, set for Harare from August 19 to 29, have hit a major setback after organisers, the Zimbabwe Chess Federation, indicated that the Zimbabwean schools team, which is supposed to represent the country at the continental showcase, is failing to get corporate sponsorship to participate in the event.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Clive Mphambela, Zimbabwe Chess Federation vice-president, told NewsDaySport that while logistical preparations for the tournament were progressing well, funding challenges were militating against the full participation of the teams.
“We are already receiving team lists from other countries across the continent, with Kenya having confirmed a 30-member team for the event, while Botswana and Zambia have pledged to send 20-member delegations to the tournament. However, owing to financial constraints, the Zimbabwean contingent comprising about 144 players is finding the going tough as the schools chess associations have had to approach the individual children’s parents to chip in to support the tournament budget.”
This, Mphambela said, would dramatically reduce Zimbabwe’s potential to put its best competitive foot forward as some of the country’s best chess players are from disadvantaged schools and humble families.
“We are, however, doing our best as the national sports association. We have approached several corporates to come to the table and assist us. We have also appealed to the ministry of Sport and Recreation, through the Sports and Recreation Commission and are extremely hopeful that we will get the much-needed assistance”, he said.
Earlier this year, the African Chess Confederation awarded Zimbabwe, through the Zimbabwe Chess Federation, the hosting rights for the 2017 African Schools Chess Championships.
The Zimbabwe Chess Federation is hosting the Championships together with the National Association of Secondary Schools Heads and the National Association of Primary Schools Heads.
“Chess has grown to be one of the most popular and inspirational sports in the country, as it offers schoolchildren equal opportunities regardless of gender, physical disability, economic or social background. Chess rarely discriminates, but in this case, substantial resources are needed so that every Zimbabwean child participates under the same conditions as their compatriots and competitors from other countries,” Mphambela said.