The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) still has a long way to go if it is to see the country being a powerhouse in the international arena.
Despite having made tremendous strides to improve the sport locally, International Arbiter Werner Stubenvoll says chess in the country is still in its infancy.
Stubenvoll, who was in the country to facilitate an Arbiters’ Training Seminar, however, believes that should chess be accorded enough resources, the country would make it among the best in the international arena.
The vastly experienced arbiter says for the country to progress, it will have to work a lot at grassroots development.
Stubenvoll, who is also a board member of the European Chess Federation (ECF) as well as the Technical Director of the Austrian Chess Federation (ACF), says he will push for more relationships between the ECF and BCF as well as the African Chess Federation. He says a lot needs to be done to bridge the great disparity between chess development in Africa and Europe.
Stubenvoll says Europe has a structured development system and kids are professionally introduced to chess when they are between the ages of four and five.
Stubenvoll believes it will be of great value to have chess introduced in schools, not only as a sport but to help grow children’s analytical and concentration skills.
“This should be done just to develop kids’ capabilities without imposing on them whether or not to continue with the sport,” he told Standard Sport.
The 66-year-old Austrian, who took time off his busy training schedule for an interview, told Standard Sport that he was very impressed by the current chess development in Botswana.
He says should Botswana successfully host the ongoing Africa Youth Chess championships, the tournament will boost its image and put it in a good position to host other big continental events.
Stubenvoll says the tournament will reveal BCF’s organisational capabilities, which can even help the association host major international events if they get enough funding.
Talking about the seminar he is conducting, the international Arbiter, who is regarded as one of the top three arbiters in the world, says the training of technical officials is of great importance to the development of the sport. He told Standard Sport that having officials who fully understand the game not only enhances the standard of competition but also ensures players’ competitiveness in the international arena.
Stubenvoll says to help his newly accredited arbiters grow; he will be pushing to get them exposure at the international level.
Meanwhile, five of the eight Batswana who participated in the arbiters’ training seminar are now qualified arbiters. This latest development means the country, which has had no FIDE accredited arbiter previously, now has five accredited arbiters who can be used in the international arena.
Kutlwano Tatolo made history, not only as the first Motswana woman to become an accredited FIDE arbiter but also as the youngest in the country.
The local lass though cannot be used as an arbiter due to her age and will have to wait until she is 21 years before she can be allowed to officiate in the international arena.
The seminar attracted a total of 13 participants from Botswana, Zambia and Namibia and only six participants passed to qualify to be FIDE arbiters.