FIDE SOCIAL ACTION COMMISSION
The Uganda Chess Federation has continued to implement and lead the FIDE Social Action Commission supported Smart Girl Chess program in Uganda.
Special thanks to WIM Beatriz Marinello; the Chairperson of the FIDE Social Action Commission who has kept in touch with us and arranged for a documentary photographer, Dora Leticia, to document the project with photographs and video interviews of the young girls that participate in the program as well as their guardians. She has often reached us via Skype.
The “Smart Girl Project” is a program created by SAC Chair, Beatriz Marinello, in light of the need in rural Uganda. The project receives support from the Social Action Commission that has helped support the growing program.
Chess classes were already taking place in Uganda and were struggling due to scarce funds for a chess programs and practically no chess equipment. The creation of the “Smart Girl Chess Program” and it’s pilot programs in Uganda have been a blessing.
With the support of SAC and Sports Outreach and the efforts of our Chair Beatriz Marinello and General Secretary Robert Katende, we have been able to develop a “Smart Girl Chess Program” in five centers for children who live in extreme poverty conditions.
Following it’s initiation in December 2013, the program has grown significantly and many lives have been empowered with improved social skills using this platform, in addition, the girl chessplayers are improving at the game of chess.
FA, FI Robert Katende, the Director of Development for the Uganda Chess Federation, is directly in charge of the project and he regularly visits the centers to ensure that teaching goes on well.
At the end of January 2015, we organized a 3-day inter-community chess tournament at the Koro Good News Community Center (Sports Outreach Facility) in Gulu, Uganda.
The theme of the Tournament was “Think, Plan and Act” and it took place from Wednesday, Jan. 21st thru Friday, Jan. 23rd, with 82 children participating in this event.
The purpose of this tournament was mainly to follow up with the girls that participate in the Smart Girl Project Chess programs and find out how much they have learned in the game of chess from their training and practice in the different community centers. We also had the teachers compete amongst themselves so as to enable them to have a tournament experience and in turn aide them in teaching the children about the value of such experiences.
We had to plan for a residential tournament and this required providing meals for all the participants for the three days in addition to providing a majority of them with accommodations. The event was very successful. The girls that finished in the top five positions shall be traveling to Kampala later this year to participate in the National Junior Chess Championship. The relatives of these children celebrated and were so excited to learn that their children were to travel to Kampala, the Capital City of Uganda for the National Chess Event!
Amidst all the logistical challenges, we managed to improvise for tables and chairs to enable the tournament to take place.
Tournament Photos Courtesy of Robert Katende
The Smart Girl Chess project takes place in six communities, we had players
from those communities namely; Koro, Aywee , Lajwatek , Pugwinyi, Lagutu and Kirombe community.
During the course of the tournament, we also took time to have a discussion with the facilitators about the tournament’s theme; Think, Plan and Act. This helped them to realize that the theme was cutting across all spheres of life and that we ought to do the same in our daily lives, not only on the chess board. This encouraged and motivated them to work hard.
On the 23rd we had a colorful closing ceremony, where teacher Judith encouraged
the children that “the step they have taken will lead to victory in their lives”. Mr. Tugume Richard, the Arbiter from Kampala also encouraged the children by saying that decision making is a very important aspect in our day to day life, and he challenged the children to always think and plan first before they act.
Maureen Ninsiima, one of the lady role models in the region also encouraged the children to believe in themselves and never to give up in whatever they do.
We then awarded prizes starting with the Under 10 years Open and Girls category. The prizes were given to the winner, first runner up and second runner up.
- Despite the fact that some of these children emerged champions, the majority of them do not have any chance for school after the elementary level. During one of the follow-ups with one of the families, I found out that one of the champions, Lanyero, who had completed her elementary last year, was now selling boiled maize (corn) on the streets, but still, she could not raise enough for her school fees to enable her continue with school this year.
- We are so grateful for the support accorded to this project from first the FIDE Social Action Commission, Uganda Chess Federation, the teachers who took up the task to teach and mentor the children throughout this game of chess; WIM Beatriz Marinello the Vice President of FIDE and Chairperson of FIDE SAC who created the “Smart Girl Program” when she learned of the need for support in chess and reaching out to these once forgotten children!
- All the centers have continued with the weekly chess programs as per the
Photos courtesy, Robert Katende.