Chess academy embraces the visually impaired

16th April 2018
NOBLE IDEAS: Keenese Katisenge Source:The Midweek Sun

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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