Botswana chess gets a king

Baitshepi Sekgweng
LEADING LIGHT: Vishal Sareen
  • World renowned coach to train Team BW ahead of Olympiad

Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) have been handed a timely boost ahead of next month’s World Chess Olympiad, with the sport’s governing body, FIDE, seconding an international coach to help train the team.

The man assigned to whip Team BW into shape, seasoned FIDE Senior Trainer (the highest coaching title in the game), Vishal Sareen comes with a big reputation, backed by almost 20 years experience as a professional trainer.

The Indian has previously led his country’s women’s national team and has also worked closely with several grandmasters, personally training some of the leading lights in the game including, GM Abhijeet Gupta.

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FIDE will be fully paying for Sareen’s services, with the seasoned New Delhi native expected to provide virtual training to the team.

Explaining how the arrangement will work, BCF Public Relations Director, Dave Motshabi told Voice Sport, “He will be dedicating around ten hours of virtual weekend training for both our national teams (ladies and men).”

Motshabi added it is normal for FIDE to offer support to national federations in the build-up to an Olympiad. Prior to the 2018 event in Georgia, it was high-profile Egyptian coach, GM Essam Elgindi who helped drill the squad.

Although Sareen’s guidance is a welcome addition, Motshabi admitted preparations have been hurt by budget constraints. Having estimated they would need around P450, 000 to adequately prepare for the elite tournament, BCF are well short of this target, with only P27, 000 being sent from FIDE. The Chess Federation’s entire grant from BNSC stood at P200, 000, with the bulk of the cash needed elsewhere, leaving very little leftover for the Olympiad.

“This has affected and delayed amongst other things like scheduling of training camp therefore this has limited our opportunity for an impactful physical training. It would also have been ideal to have dedicated coaches for the ladies and men’s team in order to capitalise on the team’s strengths and growth. Some of our national team players have other commitments like work and school which require a fair compromise in balancing personal priorities with national team duties,” moaned Motshabi.

The 44th World Chess Olympiad takes place in Chennai, India from 27 July to 10 August.

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Team Botswana comprises of youngsters: Ruth Otisitswe, WFM Besa Masaiti, WCM Natalie Banda, WCM Arona Moshoboro and WFM Naledi Marape in the ladies section. The Open section squad includes: IM Providence Oatlhotse, Gomolemo Rongwane, Oratile Kgotlane, Bojosi Sabure and Keletshabile Monnatsheko.

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