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

Mid last year a call was made from the pulpit of the Nairobi Christian Church to parents whose children were interested in playing chess to register and enroll with Mr Samuel Kimani Ng’ang’a – the chess coach and a teacher by profession.

Chess_006After rigorous and consistent practicing a vibrant team of youngsters was formed and started attending tournaments throughout the country. The young ones aged between 7- 9 years were incorporated in the National Junior Team and were slotted to represent the country at Maribour Slovenia for the World Youth Chess Championship 2012.

According to Gillian Otieno the youngest in the team, the competition in Slovenia was tight and tough and fielded over 1,000 children from different countries in the world. “I had to practice more often and harder, “she added.Chess_005

“I have learnt to always watch my opponents’ moves and master them”….an enthusiastic Raisa Wanjiku said in the interview. Although they won just a single game each and drew the other, the youthful players reiterated the fact that the exposure was good for them and they gathered a wealth of experience from interacting with different players on a different land. Max Wambua also took part in the competition and won two matches and drew in two others. The flight and the weather took toll on the players who had flown out of the country for the first time. However, it was clear that the participants had fun during and after the competition.

Chess_002An Interview with Mr. Gilbert Wandera, a father to one of the players and a Senior Sports Journalist in his own right revealed that it takes a lot of sacrifice and encouragement to get the children to perform well. Time and resources are a challenge to the sport in a country where sports is not given much emphasis. 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 something extra and adds some excitement to their lives apart from the typical child who just goes to school, watch television and eats. On his daughter Gillian, Gilbert asserts that she needs more competition. Interestingly out of the thirteen matches she has played, she won twelve which is no mean fete. He would like to see her and her team members’ rise to the highest echelons as professional chess players. The team has 20 players.Chess_004

The Chess coach, Mr Samuel Kimani reveals that a chess club has been formed and registration is open to all children aged between 6-15 years. So far 15 children have registered and are on serious training fin preparation for the coming World Youth Chess Championship 2013 preliminaries.Chess_002

Meanwhile the children have continued to excel with Raisa winning the under 10 championships and Ryan Kiarie drawing with Fide Master Ritvik Pendyna who is Kenyan and World recognized Champion. Wanjiku has been 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 on our talents. Matthew 25:14-30.

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