Beaten by the budget

Baitshepi Sekgweng
L-R: Mpene, Munyere, Gabatshwarwe & Banda

Broke BCF forced to cut youth team in half

Financial constraints at the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) mean it’s ‘check mate’ for the hopes of six young players, their dreams of African glory dashed without getting the chance to move a pawn in anger.

The unfortunate six were part of an initial 12-player squad who qualified to represent the country at the Africa Youth Chess Championships in Cairo, Egypt from 1st – 9th September.

However, hamstrung by a lack of funds, the federation was left with little choice but to cut the team in half.

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Botswana will now be represented in the U/18, U/16 and U/14 age groups only.

In a brief interview with Voice Sport, BCF Development Director, Michael Mbaiwa, revealed the initial budget for a 12-member team was P200 000, while sending six players, plus a team manager and coach will cost P170 000.

BCF received P290 000 from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) for their annual grant for the 2023/24 financial year – an amount Mbaiwa complained was too little.

“Our grant is not enough to sustain us to the next financial year; we will need a lot of money to take us to Cairo. We tried to approach companies, it has been difficult but we will keep on looking for sponsors to supplement our grant. Since we saw the calendar of events from Africa Chess Confederation early this year, we started the hunt for sponsorship but it is yet to bear any fruit,” admitted Mbaiwa.

The six youths who will travel to the land of the pyramids and pit their wits against the best in the continent are: WCM Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, Musa Munyere, WCM Natalie Banda, Thuto Mpene, Maya Otimilwe and Ezra Bartlet.

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