Taking a look at the national chess bodies on the African continent, Togo seems to be one of the youngest, but definitely growing rapidly.
Africa Chess Media is taking a look at some of the most active and vibrant chess federations on the continent and today we bring you the Togolese Chess Federation, thanks to the President of the federation Mr Noel Enyonam Sewa Fumey.
Q. How did the federation begin?
The Togo Chess Federation was created in 2003, when 3 chess clubs decided to put together their efforts of popularizing the game of Chess in Lomé and thereby, to the entirety of Togo.
Those three (3) clubs were the University of Lomé, the British School of Lomé, and the French Cultural Centre of Lomé. Some other clubs joined later, but it took almost ten (10) years for this initiative to be officially recognized by the Togolese Government in 2012 (reasons are various).
Q. When was the federation accredited by FIDE?
From 2012, everything accelerated, and even though we got the Government recognition in March 2012, FIDE affiliation came in September 2012.
Q. Who are the first set of Board Members for the federation?
The first President was Mawuvi Koue Kouevi, elected in 2003, and he was re-elected in 2012, when the Federation turned into a formal institution.
After elections in 2017, he was replaced as President by Enyonam Sewa Fumey, who was the General Secretary of the Federation since its creation in 2003. The first set of reforms was also initiated by the new President to limit the mandate of the President to two (2) terms of four (4) years.
Q. What is the structure of the federation like (Who votes, What is the role of players, What is the role of the government, Is there a viable chess in school platform linked to the federation)?
The Federation is formed of clubs and associations who are its members. The decisions are taken by the delegates of these clubs and associations who form the General Assembly.
The Federation is ruled on day to day level by a Board of nine (9) members, assisted by various Commissions that have been set up for the purpose of development.
The federation promotes Chess throughout the country and give their best to ensure the players enjoy not only moral and intellectual benefits of the game, but also financial.
The Government, on the other hand, is the moral guarantee of the Federation and it supervises the work of the federation to ensure that the federation is doing what they have been elected to do.
The Federation is working to attain a state of regular financial support from the Government as opposed to the rare support for some projects, which is on hand today. We are also working on getting financial partners to ensure that we do not lay all of our burden on the government, but share it between the sponsors (prospective) and the government.
The chess in schools program is one of the main activities of the Federation, through its trained chess teachers. Since 2014, the Federation has financially supported chess teachers who have been placed in charge of spreading the love of the game into schools.
In 2018, the program became bigger and better, as it was able to support the initiatives of teaching chess, not only in schools, but also at different structures like clubs, cultural centers, libraries, etc.
Q. What is the federation’s 5-year plan from now?
As a federation, we are very young and our model of development is to create numbers, by spreading the love of the game, we prioritize vulgarization and popular activities in combination with chess.
We think about the pleasure of playing, while benefitting from the valuable intellectual benefits of the game, which we believe will create us to create the numbers. And we believe that when the numbers come, then we build on the quality and performance.
Q. What are the federation’s developmental goals?
This question has been addressed in the response above, but then the goal is simple for the federation and its president: there must be a chess explosion before the end of this present tenure.
Q. What are the notable achievements so far?
Considering the trials of the Togo Chess Federation from 2003, one of the most notable achievements is being able to finally find a sustainable way of development in a successful structuralization in 2017.
The institution is now very well organized and functioning in the best way for sustainable development and growth. The organizational abilities of the leaders of the Federation are also internationally recognized, as the President of the Federation is currently the General Secretary of the World Governing body for Chess (FIDE); and the honorary President (former President) of the Federation, is the current General Secretary of the French speaking countries chess association (AIDEF).
On the ground, chess is now present in the 5 administrative regions of Togo with an effective development program in each of them.
Q. What are the number of clubs you have in the country and how efficient are they in supporting development in the chess industry?
As of today, twenty-five (25) clubs are members of the Federation, where the collaboration and communication with the Federation has been excellent. The first goal is to develop the number, by spreading the love of the game, the Federation is very busy with programs to support and help develop capacity building across the clubs and the administrative regions.
Q. Who has been the longest serving National Champion in the federation’s history (male and female)?
The male/open championship has been a regular annual event since the year 2013, and the Candidate Master Adama Ephoevi-Ga has been champion for 4 times.
The female event is less regular but the Woman Candidate Master Akua Esse has been a notable female champion. A new generation of girls are coming out, with with the emergence of Ivana De Souza, who was remarkable at the last African junior Championship – Girls Section in Accra (2019).
Q. What would you and your board like to do differently, post COVID?
This COVID period has been a very active period for the Federation Board and members, in terms of thinking and planning to deliver more in order to attain the desired goal of Chess Explosion in Togo! And we believe some of our events would get the Togolese people, Africans and the world talking.
We are very stable as an organization, and we believe we will achieve this Chess explosion in Togo, which makes our motto: More United, More Stronger!