CHESS Federation of Lesotho Public Relations Officer Selatela Khiba says they are planning to participate in a continental youth chess tournament set for the Zimbabwean capital, Harare next month.
Dubbed African Youth Chess Championship, the tournament is meant for under-18s.
Khiba said this on the back the second edition of the Central Junior’s Chess Championship played in Maseru by 60 participants last weekend. The tournament featured under-18, under-16, under-12 and under-10 players.
Motsamai Likhapha won in the under 10 while starlet Reitumetsi Taioe won in the under-12 category. Lebajoa Tšephe won in the under-16 while Thabang Mphane walked away victoriously in the under-18 category.
Khiba told the Lesotho Times that they want to ensure that should their plan materialise, they will have players who are ready to step up and do the job.
“We held a successful event on Saturday with 60 participants and our aim is solely to develop better chess players and to achieve that we have to start exposing our players to more competitions at an early stage,” Khiba said.
“This is why we are also planning to register our players at the African Youth Championship which will be hosted by Zimbabwe next month. We just want to ensure that should our plan succeeds, our players would be ready for competition.”
Khiba said they have seen positive improvement from the under-14s upwards, while the under-13 are struggling.
“I was very impressed with what I saw especially from the under-14s upwards. They need more such tournaments to sharpen their skills because they are promising.
“However, we are still behind in terms of the under-14s who were so unconvincing which also means that the federation has a lot of work to do.”
He however, said their biggest challenge at the moment remains the lack of funds although they are busy sourcing for sponsorship.
“We are knocking on different doors to get funding. Unfortunately, the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) is struggling to help us so we have to look for other options,” he said.
Khiba also expressed gratitude to the players’ parents for the support that they have been giving their children towards the development of the sport.