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Chess academy embraces the visually impaired

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The newly established Limitless Minds Chess Academy has brought high hopes of inclusion and active participation for the visually impaired community in the sport. Through its founder Keenese Katisenge, the academy aims to take the sport to the blind and partially sighted players and bring the game closer to people living with disabilities. The Academy recently partnered with the Botswana Association of the Blind and partially sighted. According to the coordinator of the Association Omphemetse Ramabokwa, the initiative is the first of its kind in the country and they are happy to be playing the board game. Ramabokwa said they have been sidelined in sports for a very long time.

However, of recent, they have been positive changes and attitude to their needs in sport. “I guess people are beginning to recognise us because it is not only chess, we also play goal ball, this gives us hope,” he said. He went on to plead with all government ministries to include the blind in sport saying it is sad that they are not included in programmes such as Re Ba Bona Ha and constituency tournaments. “One will be shocked to learn of the hidden talent we possess, however our biggest challenge lies with shortage of chess equipment.

Even beautiful ideas like the chess programme end up dying because we are struggling,” he said. Ramabokwa expressed delight as the blind will for the first time have an opportunity to participate at the Botswana International Junior Chess Championships scheduled for late this year. For her part, Katisenge said the academy contributes positively to the society by using chess as tool for empowerment and social inclusion. She mentioned that the main beneficiaries for the initiative are the visually impaired kids based at the Mochudi Resource Centre in Kgatleng District. So far, 60 visually impaired students aged between 5-17 have been enrolled in the chess for the visually impaired programme at the centre. “We would like to be the leading academy in Botswana and the whole of Africa when it comes to creativity innovation and inclusion.

We would like to introduce sport programs designed to meet the needs of different communities in our societies thus complementing the efforts of our mother body Botswana Chess Federation (BCF),” Katisenge said. Lessons for the visually impaired students begun early this year and the program received a major boost of P50 000 from Mascom Wireless Company.

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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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