Junior chess players in medals haul in SA

  • Sponsored by their parents when BCF was not forthcoming, the youngsters put up a fight and won

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Six junior chess players that represented Botswana at the South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) have brought home a total of three medals.

The tournament was held in Pretoria and ended on Friday.

The six are Thuto Mpene, Ketshepile Ruth Otisitswe, Darius Banda, Aone Moshoboro, Laone Moshoboro and Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda.

They were sponsored by their parents for the competition.

WCM Banda won a silver medal in the Under 11 category after falling behind Boshoma Chisimo of South Africa who emerged the champion. Otisitswe also won a silver after amassing a total of five points in the Under 16 category while Mpene also collected five points out of seven rounds, earning him a second spot behind Stephan Schnabel who was ahead by only 0.5 of a point.

Speaking to Global Sport afterwards, Otisitswe, who represented the parents of all the Botswana players who participated in the tournament, said he was impressed with the team’s performance. “The team did very well, looking at the fact that we have just returned from the Christmas break and haven’t trained much this year,” he noted. “So winning medals at a tournament of this magnitude is a huge achievement.”

Otisitswe emphasised that even though parents would always want to support their children, they often faced financial challenges. “We always have to dig deep into our pockets because these trips are expensive,” he said. “But there is nothing we can do when the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) or the sports commission cannot help.”

Contacted for comment, BCF spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo said the association they appreciated the efforts of the parents even though some parents often sent children on such trips without the knowledge of BCF.  “We can’t send our junior players to each and every tourney,” Tatolo said.

“So this is something that we highly appreciate. Our only problem is when the parents don’t inform us that they are sending their kids to tournaments. They much inform us so that we may intervene in the event of difficulties such as when organisers to withhold prizes.”