Chess has always been a tool for changing lives and it has been evident in the lives of kids and adults alike. Even though this is true, there is a need to train a child the right way, not just for participating in tournaments, but mainly to affect their lives in such a way that 20 years into the future, those kids would be great, influential and solution providing youths of the community and country.
This was the vision, goal and dream of Onuoha Wilson Ugochukwu, a young Nigerian who left his home country way back in the year 2011 to further his university degree in Ghana and decided to stick with the grace of the Ghanaians.
Living in Accra, he decided to give back to the community by volunteering to serve in the suburb of Chorkor, a district of the country. His understanding of chess helped him to find solutions t issues around him and he decided to transfer that knowledge and understanding to the upcoming generation of young kids in the Chorkor community, a town like Katwe, with talented kids.
Wilson with John Allotey, 2018
He started training the kids in the month of October, 2017, and just as Robert Katende spotted the fighting spirit in Phiona, Wilson spotted it in the kids he was training and helped them put it to good use as they prepared for the Juniors chess tournaments in Ghana.
Never in their wildest imaginations would the kids have thought that they would get such opportunities (like the works of Tunde Onakoya in the Nigerian Chess in Slums project), but they did. And in their very first tournament in 2018, being led by the standout performer John Allotey, the kids picked up three prizes and the gold, silver and bronze medals at the Juniors tournament, as John picking up gold medal in the U-14 National Championship.
This gave the kids a huge morale booster, as it helped them to believe that despite everything they were going through, they have the ability to achieve great things. Watching the movie “Queen of Katwe” was another testament to the fact that “where you are is not always where you are meant to be – Robert Katende”, and this gave them renewed hope that great things would happen for them.
Wilson with some of the Chorkor kids
In the 2019 National Juniors Championship, the kids from Chorkor have been known and prepared for. Even though this is the case, the kids still showed grit, with Jeffery Nee Quaye picking up the gold medal and trophy in the Under 12 category, as John Allotey picked up a silver medal in the under 14 category and 2 other bronze medals at the tournament concluded an impressive outing for the Chorkor kids.
GM Maurice Ashley playing one of the kids during the Inauguration
Now, Reverend Charles Tandoh has requested the services of another Nigerian, National Master Kennedy Onokpite, to help train as many kids as the academy can help, after the launch of the West Africa Chess Academy (WACA) in Accra, Ghana.
The WACA initiative seeks to create an enabling environment for teaching and learning chess, such that the kids can be nurtured to greatness and given something they never thought they could ever achieve or own.
National Master Kennedy teaching the kids during a session
The initiative was also set up to help support kids that are in need, provide them with wholistic education (through trainings) and socialization (through competing), as well as help change their perspective about life (through individual mentorship), with the help of partners and sponsors of the initiative.
The team and kids at the Inauguration of WACA
With these Nigerians helping to make a difference in Ghana, using the game of chess, it is hoped that this would help foster the continuous good relationship between the citizens of the two countries as the Western arm of Africa seeks to grow and not destroy.