Home Country Reports The Story of Zimbabwe’s First FIDE Chess Academy

The Story of Zimbabwe’s First FIDE Chess Academy

by Tendai Mubayiwa
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Young Chess Masters Academy of Zimbabwe has broken the academy jinx, by becoming the country’s first FIDE Accredited Chess Academy. The dream of the academy started when we went to Durban in 2014, with the co-founders, FIDE Arbiter and National Instructor Farirai Arthur Gumbe and FIDE Arbiter-elect and National Instructor Admire Muranganwa Mawire. There was also another Zimbabwean among us, in the person of Reuben Salimu, a FIDE Instructor, who is currently doing very well in Cape Town, South Africa, taking chess to kids and helping children learn and understand the game, while also doing his best to provide an enabling environment for the kids in and around South Africa to hone their skills.

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The academy was brought to life by these gentlemen, in order to implement what they had learnt from the FIDE Senior Trainer Grandmaster Efstratios Grivas from Greece, who was the instructor at the event. His life experience inspired the two (2), such that they decided to implement a very positive chess culture in Zimbabwe from the grass roots. The training and exposure at the World Youth Chess championships, which was the first to be held on African soil, was an eye opener to these gentlemen. This, together with the passion for the game were the ingredients needed for them to start the academy, which has since grown from strength to strength in the country. They registered with the Sports and Recreation Commission, Zimbabwe Chess Federation as well as Fide which is the highest chess governing body in the world.

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They started with only six kids and they had the trainings in Avondale, at home in Harare, and since then the numbers have since grown to more than twenty (20) kids. The group also had a lady in person of Ms Geraldine Mukute, who remains the marketing manager till date. She brought her experience and expertise during the registration process of the academy, as she was well acquainted with the processes to be followed, which made the process seamless.

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This ensured that the academy became known to many individuals and by a lot of parents. They hosted several tournaments and in the process, they managed to acquire some hundred chess sets, which were also instrumental in the hosting of the African Schools Chess Championships, which was hosted by Zimbabwe at the Rainbow Towers in August last year. The Academy has produced a Woman Candidate Master in Rumbidzai Mawire, current under 12 girls champion Anashe Murinda, two (2) time under eight (8) boys champion, Tawananyasha Mawire, Rit Agarwal, and Tawananyasha Kunaka are some of the prominent players to come from the Academy.

The future for the academy is definitely bright for the academy, and the co-founder said, “in four years time, our target is to have a Woman International Master, as well as producing an International Master. This year alone, our target is to have qualify to receive two (2) Fide titles before the end of the year”. The story of Young Chess Masters Academy shows that with the right attitude and dedication towards achieving some intended goals, nothing is impossible. Anyone and everyone in Africa can do it as long as there is focus, dedication , determination and diligence, which are part of the planning process.

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Benefits of Running a FIDE Recognized Academy as explained by the Vice President of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation, Mr Clive Mpambela is as follows:

  • FIDE academies and accredited FIDE trainers have access to very high quality developmental materials, syllabus and training resources. Truth is chess is definitely not in any way a cheap sport. And to date, the training has pushed development of about thirty five (35) books and training resources from kindergarten to Grandmaster levels.
  • Secondly, FIDE academies gain access to FIDE pool of trainers regularly, which access is not available to non affiliates.
  • Thirdly, FIDE academies are recognized in the FIDE system as schools, so they can directly register teams through the home federations for local, continental and even global FIDE events. Academies also gain support for their activities from local federations with part sponsorship, letters of support for sponsorship, etc, because they have been deem to be legitimate.

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