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Chess protégé Masaiti is Women Candidate Master

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Local home trained chess protégé Besa Masaiti has been elevated to the status of Women Candidate Master (WCM).  

The 14-year Motswedi Secondary school student was awarded the prestigious title after garnering a bronze medal at the recent African Youth Championships held in Zambia. In an interview this week, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Neoyame Katisenge said the rising star managed to get position six out of nine at the international tournament in December.

Katisenge explained that Masaiti will now be joining a handful other WCMs including Ontiretse Sabure, Naledi Marape, Naledi Kolatamo and Rosah Nthite. “This is a huge achievement for her as Botswana often went on a five to 10 year dry spell before we could get another WCM. This achievement is not common in Botswana as it often is in chess powerhouses like Egypt and Algeria.”

Katisenge said the WCM status was an entry to other international chess titles. According to Katisenge, the announcement was made recently after the International Chess Federation analysed the Youth championship at which Masaiti competed in Lusaka, Zambia.

In an interview this week, Masaiti’s father and coach, Charles Masaiti said he motivates his daughter through the historical success of sports figures like tennis ace Serena Williams, athletics stars like Amantle Montsho and Nijel Amos on the local front. In addition Masaiti said his pupil is naturally a shy person adding that playing chess often translates to success in other areas of life.

“I would appreciate it if you could also try to link chess games to school performance because I for one have linked it to my children’s performance and they are both striving towards academic success,” Masaiti said. Meanwhile, the proud father and coach said the popular board game was good for stretching a player’s mind, teaches them to be focussed, and learn strategies and planning skills.  

“Chess students learn about the importance of team work, recovering from failure above all, they develop the obsession to win, which is an important attribute in wanting to be a champion at all costs.”

Some of Masaiti’s recent achievements include winning the Debswana Re ba bona ha under 14 girls tournament, the BCF-International tournament pitting Botswana against Zimbabwe, Airfficiency tournament, Botswana chess open and the African Youth-inter schools tournament.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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