The Namibian Chess Federation has recorded an increase in the number of primary and preprimary school joining the sport since engaging an outreach programme two years ago At the end of 2014, the chess federation initiated a chess in schools program in collaboration with the government, which once fully operational will see chess as an additional educational tool in all schools across the country, making it the federations’ biggest project.
“The eagerness especially among primary school and even pre-schools learns has been phenomenal. They simply love chess and want to play it non-stop”, Secretary of Namibia Chess Federation, Mclean Hanjaba said, adding that they have however experienced a set back with female learners who lose interest after they leave high school as compared to male learners.
The chess has 135 paid up members out of a total of about 1500 active chess players across the country. Most of the members form part of the school and social clubs which are affiliated with the federation and are not registered as individual members. “In 2014 we had 14 registered social clubs and 6 registered school clubs, this figure increased in 2015 to 18 registered social clubs and 8 school clubs, when we initiated a premier and first division league in the Khomas region”, Hanjaba added.
The Chess Federation adopted a strategic outreach program for all 14 regions, without draining their limited resources by implementing chess in identified regional capitals in all four corners. “With this approach we have managed to set up running programs mainly through schools in Ongwediva, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Luderitz, Arandis, Gobabis, Omaruru and Rehoboth”, Hanjaba said.
The federation has hosted 2 continental tournaments in 2007 and 2014, as well as 1 regional tournament to date. Annually the domestic chess calendar is booked with countrywide senior and junior tournaments, grand prix and a premier and first division club league to cater to players who cannot participate in international and regional tournaments. The Chess Federation is however one of many sports codes that are struggling to get adequate funding from the state coffers and survive on membership fees, fundraising activities as well as donations and sponsorships.
“Once in a while the federation does receive government’s backing for international tournaments and domestic development but this has been minimal and far from adequate. One only needs to look at financial backing governments in renowned sporting nationals that understand the essential role of sports in modern day society”, Hanjaba said.
He says other countries have fully grasped the importance of sports as a competitive tool while Namibia is one of many nations lagging behind. The federation says, the stronghold of chess can be driven by the private sector but only once government adequately applies assistance and propels sporting activities.