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Malawi Chess received recognition at the National Sports Awards.


(By Chimthere Alfred, Chessam Publicist)

The jam-packed Njobvu auditorium at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe was the metropolis of annual Malawi Sport Awards on Friday evening, February 22, 2019, as chess shattered proceedings by scooping unprecedented five gold medals to emerge the most decorated sporting code for 2019.

Sporting the guest of honour, Grace Obama Chiume, who is the Minister of Sports, and George Jana, the Executive Director of National Council of Sports, including other dignitaries from Lesotho and Namibia, it was vivid that chess razed down the house.

Preceding the announcement of winners, whenever video clips of respective categories that included chess as nominees were beamed live on big screen, a deafening cheer of “chess!” “chess!”  by patrons was audible in unison throughout the event.

A quick resignation to chess naturalization soon became the order of the night’s Sport Awards.

At the onset, little did the audience dream that 11-year-old chess whizkid Lakshita Dutt would set the pace as Junior female player. Besides,  the triumph of chess aficianado 16 year-old Blessings Kamanga was merely a tip of an iceberg. Kamanga won the best junior male of the Year.  It was a fairytale of a seemingly minority sport terrorising the majors.

The untold saga reverberated to a crescendo as Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) President Susan Namangale was voted Best Sports Administrator of the year, shrugging off competition from Football and Golf contestants.

The show was inevitably transforming into a chess spectacle. Candidate Master Chiletso Chipanga who won the Africa Amateur Championship in 2018 and represented Africa at the World Amatuer Tournament in Cagliari, Italy, was next up.

However, the Masters of ceremony, journalists Chisomo Mwamadi and Chikondi M’manga Kasambara, announced another chess coup in Chipanga as the Sportsman of the Year, at the expense of his rivals in Football and Athletics. At this point, even the doubting Thomases began to adore chess as a dominant sport, devoid of a minority tag.

Nevertheless, chess wasn’t down the hill yet for the prestigious awards of the night.

The chess gods incessantly smiled on CHESSAM as it clinched the Best Developmental structures, and to cap it all, the Best Sports Association of the Year.

The Chessam President Namangale, had no escape route from  cameras and recorders of journalists who mobbed her at the end of the awards, inorder to catch a glimpse of her excitement.

In her brief speech, she expressed gratitude to the organisers of the event and alluded that teamwork that radiates in her Chess Committee is the key to success. She pledged not to sit on the laurels of the victory but to engage extra gear on chess development.

Earlier on, the Minister of Sports, Grace Obama Chiume was full of praise the Sports envoys from neighbouring countries Namibia and Lesotho who graced  the function. She urged them not only to taste the fresh Chambo fish, but for a wonderful experience to visit Lake Malawi as well.

Also, Sports Council Executive Director, George Jana, hailed the winners and nominees for uplifting the country’s flag in international competitions during the past year.

The winners in each category were spoiled with a certificate, trophy, and MK500.000 (roughly 700 USD) cash. Chessam President has since pledged to use part of her prize money for tree planting in Central & Northern region schools that promote chess clubs. Southern region has another grassroots programme that is already being implemented.

The Association’s prize money has silmutaneosly been earmarked to develop chess in schools project.

As patrons made their way out of Njobvu auditorium at BICC, courtesy calls of “How can i learn chess?” and “I want my kids to start playing chess” were palpable all over the place.