BY Mphatso Malidadi
11:00:18 – 02 May 2008
Chess Association of Malawi says the newly-introduced ladies category in the Lab Enterprise individual championship will help them to inspire women to form a formidable national team to participate at World Olympiad shortly. Chessam vice-president Mark Chikoko made the remarks ahead of this year’s Olympiad games that will be held in Germany in November.
Chikoko said Chessam was unable to send a women team to the championship due to the fact that they are not well exposed because of lack of competitions for ladies. “The first time we participated in Olympiad games was two years ago but we only sent men,” Chikoko said. “We were unable to send a women team because there were no competitions to assess and select national team women players. “We could not just take ladies that were participating in junior competitions to the Olympiad because of lack of experience at national level.”
Chikoko said the ladies category, which was won by Ellyn Mpinganjira on its inception, would help them to identify players for the national team. “We want these ladies to represent their country as well. The introduction of this competition was very welcome move to the development of the sport in Malawi,” he said.
Chikoko said the onus was now with ladies to prove their worth that they can compete at top level. “I would like to encourage ladies to take this competition seriously because it will be one of the yardsticks used to select players for national assignments so that women should participate at Olympiad too,” he said.
Chikoko asked other companies to sponsor chess at national level. “The sponsorship should cover for women categories as well,” he said. Lab Enterprise Financial Director Friday Mtali said their firm was determined to develop the sport especially in ladies category where the standards are low. “Ours is a noble gesture so that the sport should develop rapidly. We thought of introducing ladies category after Southern Region Chess League official asked us,” he said. Mtali said their sponsorship would stimulate women to join the sport.
Among the women that are participating in local tournaments are Vitumbiko Gondwe, Tumpale Mhango, Patricia Chihana, Chikondi Mwapasa, Carol Mwale, Susan Namangale and Royce Msiska.
SRCL chairman Wesley Mankhoma said they would strive to have more ladies participating in the tournament so that the country should have better women players.
Malawi national chess squad consisting of Chiletso Chipanga, Joseph Chalemba, Fiskani Mwangomba, Chuma and Joseph Mwale would travel to Germany for the event.