FIDE and Zimbabwe Chess Federation Chess in Education Tour

By MKANGANWI Muchakanakirwa
Zimbabwe Chess Federation- Acting President

The Zimbabwe Chess Federation (ZCF) has recently hosted the FIDE Chairman of the EDU Commission Mr Jerry Nash and his fellow Commissioner WIM Anzel Laubscher. We also hosted GM Nigel Short the FIDE Director for Chess Development. The project was a joint effort funded by FIDE, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the ZCF. We saw the training of 59 people over three days from 11th to the 13th of July 2023. at Joina City in Harare in the recently revised Preparation of Teachers (POT) programme. The programme had good attendance and very well received. We have been receiving continuous glowing reports from participants on the content,approach, and professionalism in the way the programme was delivered.

On Wednesday the 12th of July 2023 GM Short did a simul to help raise funds for the ground costs. This event was fully subscribed and went a long way to help with our expenses. The event was black tie and we managed to get 25 players to play against GM Short and they all paid US230.00 to do that. We were able to sell an extra 35 tickets to attend at USD70 each. Many of the Under 16 champions were able to attend and play as some of the tickets were bought by our sponsors so that our juniors get an opportunity to play the GM. We had many other up and coming junior players attend and play. We had key government officials, Chairman of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) Mr Gerald Mhlotshwa and the Director General of the SRC Ms Eltah Nengomasha, attend. Many key sponsors also attended.

During this period GM Short visited two government schools in some of the least privileged parts of Harare, Chirodzo Primary School and Lord Malvern High School. He conducted lessons to groups of young pupils who were completely enthralled. The whole team accompanied by Mucha Mkanganwi, President ZCF, also visited St Georges and St Johns High Schools. These are at the top end of the spectrum and are financially very privileged schools. They are important schools as they have a lot of say in Zimbabwe and many of our sponsor parents have their children there. In all instances the FIDE EDU and Development agendas were articulated.

We then proceeded to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. A lot of chess is played there in the schools and many Zimbabwean young champions emerge from this area. We interacted with the provincial ZCF leadership and many of the current and potential funders from the region. Various schools came to a local hotel in Victoria Falls and pupils were addressed by the team and GM Short taught some chess skills for about an hour. The following schools from Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park attended: Happy Hearts Primary, Chinotimba Primary, Baobab Primary, St Bakita Primary, Megawatt Primary, Chamabondo, Jacaranda Montessori, Hwange Primary and Thomas Coulter Primary.
We also drove into the rural areas of Matebeleland North Province, in Zimbabwe where Victoria Falls is located, and we interacted with them sharing our vision. GM Short gave lessons to the following schools: Lesedi Primary School and Jafuta Foundation (which hosts three rural schools’ extra curriculum activities).

The whole visit was a crucial boost to our efforts in Zimbabwe. The training that was availed would not have been accessed by most of the participants as it’s generally too expensive for them to try to go and get. We also got feedback from one participant, Mercy Mushangwe, that the in-person training is far more powerful that the online course. FIDE honoured our efforts by sending such an accomplished team. Moral support of this nature is priceless and gives dignity to our sport in Zimbabwe. We were able to show our young players that they matter and that the best help is there. Our sponsors and other key partners in Government and the private schools were also able to engage with us and committed at a level that they would not have without this trip. GM Short spoke about his dedication to the sport and what it takes to master it. Those talks were always inspiring and eye opening!

The next steps include taking stock of the trip to see how we continue to train more teachers. We would also like to see a way to get our own teachers trained to be able to deliver this course. The hunger is palpable for this knowledge. GM Short also started to review our status as a Federation and we shall work together to conclude some of our key documents such as our new constitution. Our Federation’s emphasis is on the young players, sustainable funding, the teachers/coaches, and the governance of the
sport. This trip is totally aligned with these aspirations. I would like to thank FIDE and the IOC for the support for this program, and funding the delegates in the way that they did. It is not something we take for granted. We look forward to great chess outcomes in the future with such assistance as this. I would also like to thank Mr Nash, GM Short and WIM Laubscher. They were outstanding.
These professionals were hardworking, committed and warm. They have left an indelible impact on our sport for years to come.

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