Kampala Joins the Celebration for FIDE’s 95th Anniversary

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Uganda Chess Federation (UCF) an affiliate of the International Chess Federation and African Chess Confederation (ACC) celebrated 95 years of FIDE existence on 20th and 21st July 2019. Powered by FIDE’s financial arm, the Planning and Development Commission (PDC), UCF is now able to offset its day to day financial obligations. This financial boost from PDC has seen a massive wave of grass-root development resulting in several success stories in competitions where Ugandan based players feature.

Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with 70% classified as youth, however, the unemployment rate coupled with other factors has seen a rising number of street children and beggars move on to the streets of towns and the city in Uganda. This has resulted in several deaths, lawlessness and several crime-related habits mushrooming in town areas in Uganda. UCF through its corporate social responsibility is transforming the lives of the street children by restoring hope through chess.

On Saturday morning 20th July 2019, a chess event was organized for the street children in the Kisenyi suburb located 1 kilometre from the heart of Kampala the Capital City of Uganda. Chess, like other sports, can deter people from crime-related activities as it is a mind engaging sport. Children love challenges and are always eager to learn. Every time a chessboard is placed on the table a crowd gathers to witness who emerges as the eventual winner in the specific game. With this excitement and interaction, the children return every day with another child from the streets. Forty children came together on the 20th of July 2019 to have a chess experience and celebrate 95 years of FIDE. The numbers keep growing and some have returned home thanks to the partnership with Jackie from Shule Foundation. This corporate social responsibility continues and all are invited to make a change in the lives of these children as we struggle to transform and save the lives of these vulnerable children. With chess, we are making a difference and very soon the streets of Kampala will be free from street children if all can rise up to the challenge.

The Shule Foundation, in partnership with the chess trainers, combine efforts with volunteers and facilitators to ensure the street children are invited from all corners of the Kampala streets to come to the collection centre in Kisenyi. John Bosco famously known as Uncle JB helps with the information flow to ensure the children come for training. Sharifa and Auntie Jackie from Shule Foundation help with the logistics and when children are rehabilitated, return them to their homes or place them in schools to continue their education. Eng. Mwaka Emmanuel, nicknamed by the street children the “street Don”, together with Christopher Tibenkana a former student of Uganda Christian University Mukono (UCU) volunteer with the chess training program.

Although young, vulnerable and exposed to the harsh street life, these are children and can be rehabilitated and returned to normal lives within Uganda. The children are attentive and show signs of brilliance on the chessboard. Like one chess sage put it “a pawn, if pushed correctly, can deliver checkmate”.

The children are always joyful and demonstrate sportsmanship. They shake hands before a chess game and resign when the game is lost. Although the streets expose the children to drugs and all sorts of habits, not all is lost. As the games are played these children open up and it is evident they still carry a lot of unsaid things that happen in their lives.

Not all is lost for our children on the streets. Through chess, we are able to restore hope. Restoring hope to the vulnerable street children is possible and begins with you.


(Original report by Mr Emmanuel Mwaka, President of the UCF, edited and summarized. Photos by Chess Dinasty)

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