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Schools urged to incorporate chess in curriculum

Kisii Chess Club Chairman, Michael Asati has urged learning institutions to introduce Chess game into the school curriculum.

Speaking to KNA when the county observed the International Chess Day at the Kenya National Library Services Kisii branch on Wednesday, Asati said playing the game will boost the students’ mental health as it will activate their mind to the highest level and make them discover their personal strengths and weaknesses.

“We have primary Chess clubs in institutions such as Kisii Primary, Imperial School and Set Green Hill. We are in discussions with other primary schools, both public and private to incorporate chess in their schools,” he noted.

The Chairman, who is also a member of the South Nyanza Chess Committee, pointed out that since the inception of the Kisii Chess Club, they have only organised two tournaments due to lack of funds adding they have not received any support from the county government.

Asati said that holding a tournament requires a big space which can accommodate up to three hundred players and the club is unable to fund such an event.

As a result, he noted that he trains Chess players according to age brackets during school holidays and charges Sh 350 for ages 6-8 years and as the age increases, the charges also rise. When he trains students in school, he is also paid Sh5000 for every 45 minutes.

Justus Agwenge, a student at Kisii University and member of the Chess club of the institution, said the game has enabled him to transform his moral values and make rational decisions in life.

“Chess can help young people who are idle to utilise their time in doing something constructive. The game can also expose you to the outside world,” Agwenge noted.

Similar to Asati, he called upon institutions of higher learning to consider promoting Chess as a sport saying most public universities have neglected the game forcing students to coach themselves.

“Chess can help students in campuses to avoid the influence of drugs and alcohol and therefore, administrators should take it seriously by supporting and funding the game,” he added.

Rachel Gitamu, a high school student at Jomo Kenyatta High School, said the game has been an eye-opener since she started participating in it five years ago as it helps her in critical thinking during her studies.

Earlier this year, Chess Kenya introduced the game at Kisii Main Prison and Kisii Women Prison where they donated chess boards for prisoners and warders under the Chess for Freedom programmes.

This initiative aimed at promoting the reintegration of prisoners into society after they are released by motivating them and ensuring they recognize that hard work is rewarded.

Kisii Chess Club was established in 1986 and over the years, the club has seen tremendous improvement.

Currently, the club has introduced the game in sixty-six primary schools, twenty-four secondary schools and Kisii University within the county. The club is associated with cooperative societies that give sponsorships to chess players since it is an income-generating indoor sport.

By Vincent Nyambane and Ilhan Ismail

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