Former Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) president, Tshepo Sitale strongly believes he will return to Botswana next month as the new Africa Chess Confederations (ACC) President.The ACC presidential elections are scheduled for the 3rd October 2018 in Batumi, Georgia alongside the 43rd Chess Olympiad. Sitale departs to the hosting city this coming Sunday. While in Georgia, Sitale will battle for the presidency seat with Lewis Ncube of Zambia and Essoh Essis of Cote d’Ivoire.
Speaking to BG Sport this week, Sitale expressed confidence that he stands a good chance of emerging victorious on the day. He says since he has diligently polished his assignment and given his rigorous campaigning strategies, he is bound to land the top seat.He was in Zambia mid last month where he met about 13 countries of the Southern and Central Africa to present his manifesto and recently returned from Dakar Senegal for the West and North side of Africa.
While in Senegal, he presented his ideologies to nine more federations.The plan is to survive the first round of the elections where the least voted candidate will be dropped. Should he proceed to the next second round, he will be looking to convince voters whose candidate would have lost in the first round that he is the right man for the position.
As far as leading the continent is concerned, he believes he has the right energy levels to stomach it all, “Africa is vast and each chess federation has unique challenges, therefore there will be need for the ACC president to appreciate the socio-economic challenges and culture in each country to be able to understand exactly what they need,” he said.
The aspiring Africa president said the continent has the potential to play the game well and master it, however funds to finance development projects is the number one enemy of many federations. As most federations prepare for the Olympiad, some he said, are faced with high costs of tickets to Europe. Sitale explained that FIDE provides travel subsidy, however it has proved to be insufficient as federations continue to suffer and struggle to finance all expenses that come with participating at the Olympiad.
He stressed that the lack of support made it difficult for Chess to grow in Africa. Sitale said he has grown to witness that there is little to no funding or even support structures to support the beautiful game of Chess. “I have realised that Chess is not a spectator sport, there is also serious lack of sponsorship and it does not help that even with the government prioritises, funds are normally channelled towards codes like athletics and football, with that we need to find other means of survival,” he said.
He is proposing that Africa Chess should foster strategic partners in future such as with Airline partners, saying it will come in handy as over 30 federations attend the Olympiad that is held every two years. Should he be voted president one of his priority areas will be to invest in grassroots development instead of gunning to develop grandmasters.
Botswana has only one grandmaster in Tuduetso Sabure and he is confident that aspiring stars such as Women Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape have what it takes to be grandmasters in future. Inspiration, he says should be drawn from India, “They have managed to turn corner and are now a leading chess nation, we can take a leaf from that as Africa.” He is particularly delighted that Botswana wishes to introduce Chess in Schools, saying it is a move in the right direction.
Chess is not just a board game but also taught in classrooms in Europe and some states in America. Sitale is of the view that Africa needs to adopt the strategy saying it will form as an educational tool and form of investment that education agencies use to assist the government.