Ten players are representing the country at the coming World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan from 1-14 September 2016. The team, which left the country on Tuesday, is made up of five male and five female players. The team is a combination of experienced and young ambitious players. Among them is the highly decorated Woman International Master Boikhutso Mudongo as the experienced player from the ladies section. Surprises in the team are the young Khumo Mooketsi and Mabedi Mbo who will be playing their first Olympiad. Other players include sisters Thapelo and Onkemetse Francis. The men are led by veteran player Ndawana Mosenya, who had played at the Olympiad for a couple of times. With him is Keletshabile Monnatsheko, Thuso Mosutlha, Thato Olebile and the youngest among them Otsile Mapini.
BCF president Tshenolo Maruatona said this composition is a sign that their mandate is slowly being realised. Maruatona said it is BCF’s mission to have more young players playing at high calibre tournaments. He said young players are the base of the future national team and they have to be trained well. Maruatona called on Batswana to support the team and desist from abandoning them when they do not do well. “I am not in any way insinuating this team will not do well but I am saying what happened with our Olympic team was really uncalled for,” he said. He conceded that it is not easy to compete at the World Chess Olympiad but remained confident that the team will do well. “This is a decorated team we are sending off and I am confident that they will make the country proud,” said Maruatona. The team has been lucky to have worked with Grandmaster Marian Petrov who taught them a lot during his two weeks stay in Botswana. Petrov held training sessions with the team in preparations for the tournament.
The Bulgarian chess guru is happy with the players Botswana has, saying they are good. He, however, pointed out that for them to get stronger they need to play more tournaments. Petrov believes that with more of these the country will produce more quality players in future. The team representative Mosenya Ndawana promised that they are going all out to do their level best. Even though he said they cannot promise to bring the championship trophy home they will improve on the performance of the last team to the Olympiad. The team is expected to come home with some titles from the tournament.