Thursday, June 4, 2020

Lack of sponsors threaten to dash chess sensation Masaiti’s dreams

For a much decorated young athlete, 17-year- old Besa Masaiti should not be struggling for monies to represent her country at international competitions.

Masaiti, who sat for her Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) or matric this year, is a former Africa Schools under 18 Chess Champion (girls section).

She was also the team captain for Botswana Youth Chess Team that represented the country at the World Youth Chess Tournament held in Turkey early this year.

Locally, Masaiti has also won numerous awards and is currently ranked the number one player in the ladies under 21.

Despite being so decorated, the reigning Botswana Junior Sports Woman of the Year was this week darting from company to company soliciting finances to attend the 2019 African Chess Championships.

The competition, which will be hosted in Windhoek, Namibia, is due a week away from 14 to 22 December.

According to Masaiti, the total amount required for this outing is around P18000.00 and is just intended to cover basic necessities which include transportation, lodging, registration coaching and out of pocket allowance ‘meals’.

Unfortunately, the federation does not have enough finances to help cater for Masaiti to go and take part in these championships going as an additional player to the already announced team which was selected.

“The chess federation does not have enough money to sponsor me and my parents who have previously been my sponsor cannot afford to send me during this outing hence my plea that you assist me in any way possible,” Masaiti said.

The teenager, who is currently rated a Woman FIDE master, has an eye on attaining the Women International Master (WIM) title and becoming the youngest in Botswana to hold the title.

Currently, there are three WIM rated players in the country and all of them are in the seniors’ category.

For Masaiti, missing the competition will be a major drawback. Playing in Namibia will give her a chance to win a gold medal and attain the title she so coverts.

And like any other athlete, Masaiti is confident she can win gold. According to the teenager, from the list of participants going to compete, she stands a greater chance of winning the gold medal.

“If I manage to win gold at the championship, I will be awarded the Women International Master title and I will also travel to Romania to represent Botswana at the World Youth Chess Championships in 2020,” she explained.

But how did a talent like Masaiti miss out on an automatic chance to make the team? According to her, sitting for her BGCSE exams hampered her from performing well during the qualifying tournaments hence being an additional member.

She however says if given an opportunity, she will represent the company with dignity and work hard to bring a medal back home.

“As a sports person it is very important to believe in myself, my abilities and God. I have been playing chess for the past 6 years and I can win this if I work hard and believe in myself,” she added.

To ensure the monies are solely used for intended purposes, Masaiti said all monies from companies or individuals assisting her should be sent straight to the Botswana Chess Federation.

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