Francistown school of Chess says 2019 has been full of successes and challenges, which all contributed to their growth as an academy.
This was revealed by the school’s co founder and coach Jeremiah Dikgang. Speaking in an interview, Dikgang said it is their mission to continue redefining chess development in the country.
“One of our objectives was to become a centre of excellence, and we feel we have achieved all that looking at our student’s performances and how they have grown and learned over the years and the past months,” he said.
Dikgang further added that they have had several of their students called for national assignments, something which he said they are proud of.
He said: “It shows that our lessons are benefitting them as they also get medals as well as international exposure hence they will grow well in the chess world.”
“Last year we had four kids forcing their way into the national team, our target this year was to have 50% of our players into the team, and we did it. Our students will be part of the 12 national team players off to Namibia for Africa Youth and 6 of our own players are part of them,” an elated Dikgang explained.
“This year we celebrated the growth of two of our young stars in international ratings by the International Chess Federation profiles. The profiles are updated on monthly basis, and the young girls ratings were updated on June first., these include a 12 years old Peo Phole who is rated second in Botswana and sixth in Africa and Laura Molosiwa, who is rated third in Botswana and seventh in Africa,” opined Dikgang.
He added that they managed to move from fifteen players who had international ratings to twenty five players.
Moreover, Dikgang noted that the academy managed to defend the Junior Schools individual championship. He said “We managed to defend it for the fifth year consecutively, we also manage to defend junior school teams, and we got silver medals which is not a bad performance at all.”
“The academy prides itself developing chess at grassroots level, reaching to the young and giving them top quality training so that they can get international ratings. We also expose them to high profile tournaments, this helps such that they grow into better chess players hence they can be selected for national duties,” added Dikgang.
He added that they have also managed to attend Eswatini chess tournament, where his academy students play in open tournament than in youth tournament. He said “This has given our players an opportunity to play with elderly high ranked players in Africa, with some winning against them, whilst for others it is a stepping stone to regional exposure.”
“We had a successful year all in all; one more is our partnership with Capital Bank who have sponsored one of our events. This event attracted over 131 chess players to Francistown over Easter holidays, with other players from Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Kingdom of Eswatini. They have already pledged that they will sponsor it as an annually event,” Dikgang added.
He noted that their challenge mostly is to get sponsorhips for certain tournaments. He said “We did not manage to get a sponsor for the Kingdom of Eswatini tournament, hence parents fully sponsored the trip for our students, we hope to find sponsors with time.”