Shortage of finances is threatening to cripple Botswana Chess Federations’ (BCF) 2017 plans. So serious is the situation that the association may have to forgo some of its key strategic programmes. It may fail to send players to the 2017 World Schools Chess Championships set for Romania from 21 April to 05 May 2017. BCF director of Public Relations Keenese Katisenge said some players have qualified for the competition. She, however, said at the moment the association is not sure if they will send the team or not. “Four players have qualified for the tournament but as things stand we are unable to confirm if we will be able to send them to the championships or not because we do not have money,” she said. The four players qualified for the 2017 World Schools Chess Championships following a splendid performance at last year’s African Schools Chess Championships in Zambia. The team made history at the tournament by collecting a total of nine medals from the competition. This was to be the first time for Botswana to send players to the World Schools championship.
She said this is an important tournament for the players to attend to gain further exposure in the game. She said for Botswana to dominate in chess like Russia and Romania, local players have to go through all the competition levels available for them. “If the players miss this opportunity they miss the opportunity to get exposure and gauge their skills against tougher opponents in the international arena. If they play in this tournament they can better represent this country at senior level,” she added. Chess is one of the fastest growing sporting codes in the country and BCA has invested a lot of time and resources in grassroots development. As a result chess has a busy calendar this year. This has been explained by Katisenge as necessary because players need enough playing time and exposure. She said failure to take the players to this competition will be defeating the association’s intentions of developing players from the young age. With the emergence of promising young chess players it is an undisputed reality that chess continues to grow in Botswana.
However, Katisenge is worried that lack of finances may disturb this momentum going into the future. She said though they acknowledge the grant they get from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) it not sufficient for all their activities. She, however, is hopeful that when BNSC disburse funds this year, the grant will be increased. “I hope that looking at the previous consumption of our allocated funds and our proposed budget the money will be increased this year,” she said. Katisenge urged the private sector to partner with the association in growing the sport further. To take the team of four players and officials to Romania, Katisenge said they need approximately P200 000. The association is open to any support that would come from individuals or companies for the team.