Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) received a major financial boost on Thursday when Debswana Mining Company unveiled P1 111 200 sponsorship to be channeled towards the league and youth tournaments.
From the whole amount P110 000 will go towards the Debswana Developmental Botswana International Open while P40 000 is for the Debswana Youth Championships and P127 800 goes to the league sponsorship which will be for four years starting with last year.
The unveiling of sponsorship coincided with celebration of the performance of the Botswana junior team that competed at the Africa Schools Individual Chess Championships in South Africa last year where they scooped 11 medals - eight gold medals, one silver and two bronze.
Chess has groomed high profile players in the likes of Woman Fide Masters; Besa Masaiti and Naledi Marape, who went on to impress in both local and international events. Therefore the massive support for chess development structures by Debswana has been seen as noble gesture which will help to unearth more future stars.
Debswana Group Head of Human Resources, Mpho Lebole Mokoto, said “This sponsorship has been made possible through the Debswana Corporate Social Investment programme which aims to create a legacy of prosperity and resilience among the communities in which we operate in. This is not our first encounter with chess; our relationship dates to 31 years ago when we first sponsored the Schools Chess Championship with P1500, and that was way back in 1988. To date 6000 players have benefited from this partnership and our players have developed into very competitive athletes both locally and internationally; something which we pride ourselves with at Debswana,” she said.
The Debswana sponsorship for the Schools Chess Championship continued until 2004 by which time an estimated 1200 athletes were believed to have benefited from the partnership. In 2012 the partnership was re-established with an initial sum of P40 000 which was later increased to P150 000 in support of Botswana International Open.
“BCF also benefits from the Debswana's Re-Ba- Bona- Ha grassroots development programme so since chess was included into the programme in 2009 we have always parted with P100 000 annually for the initiative. And with these funds, two chess centres have been established in Gaborone and Francistown where over 120 children are part of the programme. I implore you to use these funds responsibly as you have done in the previous sponsorship deals. We are confident that the intended beneficiaries will reap the measurable gains in their quest to improve their performance,” said Mokoto.
For his part BCF president, Motlhokomedi Tlhabano welcomed the sponsorship with great happiness.
“I believe you have noticed that we come a long way together and to some of us, when our eyes opened the partnership was already in place. BCF has achieved tremendous success over the years due to the support from Debswana,” he said.
Last year was a very great year for chess starting with the Chess Olympiad team performing well by moving 18 places up from the previous competition while the national team also won two medals at the Zone 4.3 Chess Championship.