The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) is racing against time in search for P 75 000 sponsorship to assist local players to compete at World Chess Championships scheduled for Albania from the 20th until 29th April 2018.
The youthful players are Women Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape who will be competing in the under 13 category, Women Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda for under 11 and Temo Kabane from the under seven boys category. The players are the current African Champions following their stellar individual performances at the Africa Schools Chess Championships held in Zimbabwe last year.
The BCF coffers are reported to be running dry and the Association is appealing to the community to assist in sending the team to the world tournament. This week, BCF president Mothokomedi Thabano said they partnered with parents to realize the dream of sending the players to the competition. “Parents play a crucial part in the Federation, to them the sky is not even the limit. We conquered Africa for two consecutive years and the financial status of BCF will not stop them from wanting the best for their children,” he said.
According to Davies Banda, the father to Natalie, they are appealing to the business community to assist where possible saying the tournament will help the players gain the necessary exposure and experience. As a way of raising funds for the team, Banda said they are planning to host a fund-raising event in Bokaa village this weekend. Banda said they hope to raise funds from the event in form of pledges.
“We have been selling tickets but so far I cannot say we have anything on the table, the idea is to raise more money so that we can at least send athletes to Albania,” he said.
Another parent, Dr Marape said the children will be making their debut at the championships and it will be very unfortunate if they miss out on the opportunity. He said that his daughter is looking forward to bringing a gold medal home. “With her recent performance anything is possible, she wants to eventually become a grandmaster and that can only be achievable if she competes with world class players from other countries such as Russia,” Marape said.
Marape further explained that the BCF has been committed to grassroots development and now they have to ensure that the talent is nurtured. “They are currently the best in the Africa, they have proved unstoppable both locally and internationally and they worked very hard for it,” Marape said.