Botswana’s rising chess sensation, Naledi Marape continued to shine when she won a bronze medal at the South African Open Schools Chess Championships in the Under-9 category.
The eight-year old player’s father and coach, Dr Marape Marape said the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) was unable to send any player to the tournament due to financial constraints.
He said he decided to send Naledi and her older brother, Marape Marape (junior) to the tournament, held in Cape Town, as a way of preparing them for the upcoming African Schools Chess championship to be held next month in Gaborone. He said the two were preparing for the Africa Youth Championships and World Youth Championships later this year.
He said Naledi dominated her category, beating all the girls she faced only to lose to two boys. He added that Naledi finished third after a tiebreaker. “Most of the players who participated in the competition were best players. You must be aware that South African players participate in most international tournaments and they are rated better than our players.
“Giving my children a chance to play against them was meant to give them exposure and experience,” said Marape.
He said the championship also gave the players a crack at FIDE titles. He said the top three players from the competition automatically qualify for the South African Closed.
I was not clear if Naledi would participate in the tournament as it is meant to select the South African national team.
Marape said it was important for parents to support their children if they want them to excel in sport. He said that spirit motivates him to keep coaching and supporting his children. He revealed that his two children have started Young Grand Masters Chess Clinic, which is meant to give other children a chance to learn the sport.
Meanwhile, BCF spokesperson, Keenese Katisenge applauded Naledi. She said Naledi has been performing well even during FIDE-rated local events. She said the youngster appeared in the FIDE rating list for Botswana in March this year.
“Her performance is as a result of the effort her parents are putting in working hand in hand with BCF on grassroots development.
“We are really grateful for the investment they are putting in chess development in Botswana and cannot thank them enough. “Parents are a very key stakeholders in sport as their support is crucial for players’ motivation, development and retention,” she said.