Written by  Janet Nzisa, Nairobi Tuesday, 28 May 2013 21:53

By Janet Nzisa

Sporting in the 21st century has come of age. Chess, once considered a rich man’s wit game, has now become the cream of modern society and the current generation has not been left behind.

Mid-year 2012 the Nairobi Christian Church made a call from the pulpit for any children interested in playing chess to register with Mr. Samuel Kimani Ng’ang’a - the chess coach, and a teacher by profession.

After rigorous and consistent practicing, a vibrant team of 20 youngsters formed and began attending tournaments throughout the country. The children, all seven to nine years old, were incorporated in the National Junior Team and were slotted to represent the country of Nairobi in Maribour, Slovenia, for the World Youth Chess Championship, 2012.

According to Gilliane Otieno, the youngest member of the team, the competition in Slovenia was tight and tough and included over 1,000 children from countries around the world.  “I had to practice more often and harder,“ she added.

An enthusiastic Raisa Wanjiku said, “I have learnt to always watch my opponents’ moves and master them.” Although they each won only a single game and had a draw for another, the youthful players reiterated that the exposure was good for them and that they gathered a wealth of experience from interacting with different players in a different land. Max Wambua also took part in the competition, winning two matches and reaching a draw in two others.                                                               

It was clear that the players had fun during and after the competition, although the flight and weather took a toll on them – this was a first flight out of the country for each of them.

Mr. Gilbert Wandera, Gilliane’s father and a Senior Sports Journalist in his own right, revealed that it takes a lot of sacrifice and encouragement to help the children perform well.  Time and resources are a challenge to the sport in a country where sports are not emphasized. As a result, the children are left with little time to train amidst loads of homework and class assignments.

“It’s a sacrifice,” he added, “but the experience and benefits outweigh the investment.”  The sport gives the kids some added excitement apart from just going to school, watching television and eating.

Gilbert asserts that his daughter, Gilliane, needs more competition. Interestingly, she has won 12 of the 13 matches she has played. He would like to see both her and the rest of the team members rise to the highest echelons as professional chess players.

The Chess coach, Mr Samuel Kimani, says registration for the chess club is open to all children between the ages of six and 15. So far 15 children have registered and are training seriously in preparation for the coming World Youth Chess Championship 2013 preliminaries.

Meanwhile, the other children continue to excel. Raisa won the under-10 championships and Ryan Kiarie reached a draw with Fide Master Ritvik Pendyna, the recognized World Champion from Kenya. Raisa Wanjiku was given a scholarship by a prestigious school for her excellence.

As a church we are encouraged to pursue, nurture and express talent. Having the young ones on board is an assurance that God has indeed called us to maximize our talents. Matthew 25:14-30.

Read 2584 times Last modified on Friday, 17 January 2014 22:28