Eleven year-old chess star, Naledi Marape has made history after becoming the youngest Woman FIDE Master (WFM) as Botswana recently saw six other players receive new titles.
Marape got her title last week following her exploits at the 2017 Africa Individual Schools Chess Championship where she won gold in Zimbabwe in August. Marape played in the Under-13 category and despite competing with her more senior counterparts, she snatched a gold medal. In 2015, Marape became a Woman Candidate Master (WCM) during the same championship. Moshoboro Arona is Woman Candidate Master (WCM) after winning a bronze medal in the Under-11 girls category. Naledi’s brother, Marape Marape Junior is now a Candidate Master (CM) after finishing in the third spot in the boys Under-15. Marlo Natalie Banda won gold in the Under-11 girls category has got her a Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title. Another WCM is Susan Sethebe for her silver medal in the Under-17 section.
Hasitha Sai Naga Manikonda got another WCM title for the country after winning a gold medal in the Under-7 girls section.
Naledi’s father and coach, Dr Marape Marape could not hide his excitement about her daughter’s achievement. He said Naledi has been working hard and becoming a WFM at her age is an indication of bigger things to come. “She is a star in the making. I believe in her and she believes that she can go far. She is a high achiever and continues to break
Marape said Naledi is the youngest Motswana to achieve the title. He said the challenge now is financial support. He said funds permitting, the idea is for Naledi to compete in international tournaments and to go for training in countries such as Russia where chess is highly developed. He called upon the private sector to support Naledi. Meanwhile, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) president, Motlhokomedi Thabano told Mmegi Sport that they are happy about the achievement by the junior team.
“This is growth. Especially the WFM title for Naledi who has been doing well both locally and internationally. She is the youngest WFM in the history of chess in Botswana,” he said.
Thabano said at 11 years, Naledi has already competed in higher age categories. He said seven new titles is a big achievement as they continue to take chess to another level.
“It has been a successful year for us. We have won two Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) awards, World Chess Federation (FIDE) president visit, training of the youth team by a Grandmaster for the first time in our history,” Thabano said.
He said the visit by Grandmaster Nigel Short at the invitation of Talking Squares Trust was a welcome development.