Young chess sensations Naledi Marape and Besa Masaiti will prove their mettle at the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) youth championships, slated for the 19th – 20th March at Legae Academy. The nine year old Marape goes into the championships on a high after a string of exceptional performances that earned her recognition by the chess motherbody, FIDE.
Marape proved to be a heavyweight as she put up a sterling performance against Africa’s best last year, returning home with a silver medal from the Africa Youth Championships which were held in neighbouring Zambia.
Tipped to become the next big star, Masaiti also brought home a gold medal from the African Youth championships. The 14 year old’s magical touch on the pieces has also earned her success as she is the reigning champion of the Debswana Re Ba Bona Ha under 14 girls’ tournament. BCF spokesperson Keenese Katisenge said that the young chess players’ excellent performance was proof that the chess federation’s aggressive approach to grassroots development was bearing dividends.
“The tournament has a lot of champions in different categories, but nine year old Naledi Marape was dominant in a lot of youth tournaments last year and chances are she will continue on top,” she said.
She added that Masaiti was also a star performer who has even started giving senior players a run for their money. Competition will be very stiff in the boys section as BCF continues to produce young stars. Katisenge further revealed that they intend to impart life skills and discipline to all the players who will be competing at the championship.
“BCF also uses such tournaments to empower and guide these young players because they are the future of this country. Experts from different fields are usually invited to address the players on areas of education and discipline. We want our youthful players to continue doing well at school and to become responsible leaders in future. We are strategically combining our events with mentorship and grooming because we want to produce well balanced players,” said Katisenge.
The tournament will be open to both schooling and out of school players below the age of 18.