Junior Chess Team Seeks Continental Glory »TheVoiceBW
The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has assembled a formidable team that will represent the country at the African Youth Championships September 17-26 in Accra, Ghana.
The squad consists of Gaasite Sebetlela, Musa Munyere, WFM Naledi Marape, WCM Natalie Banda as official players while Ofile Masilo was drafted as an unofficial player.
The team was selected based on the evaluations of FIDE.
They enter the tournament without their experienced WCM, Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, who will take his junior certificate exams next month.
The tournament comes against the backdrop of a dry spell of competitive tournaments both locally and internationally due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Therefore, players are rusty and have long aspired to competitive championships.
However, the young team will build on the experience of WFM Marape, who has just participated in the 2021 FIDE Online Olympiad with the senior team.
The team which left for Accra on Thursday is under the management of WIM Onkemetse Francis as a coach. “The team did not prepare due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but they trained individually and I hope that will be enough to get us a medal in all categories. I am not satisfied with the preparations because the team has just been formed on Monday. We experienced financial constraints for the team to even participate in the event, ”Francis told Voice Sport.
At the last edition of the African Youth Championships in 2019, Botswana sent a contingent of 12 players who won four medals, one gold and three bronze.
However, this time around the team was downsized due to financial issues.
Despite the late and limited preparations, young chess minds are aware of the need to give their best performance as the tournament serves as a qualification for the 2022 Youth World Chess Championships scheduled for Romania.
“Even though we haven’t done any off-board chess tournaments, I think the team will perform well as most of the players have participated in online events and hired personal trainers. It will be a tough tournament but I believe that, just like in past events, the team will bring home medals, ”concluded Francis.