Many of us are familiar with the phrase: “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not“—the term coined by Rye Barcott in his 2011 book titled: It happened on the way to war. This phrase has often been used in recent times, mainly when talent and opportunity discussions arise. There are many talented people all around the world, which makes talent universal. Without opportunity, these sets of humans will never tap into their full potentials due to lack of money, basic amenities, education, knowledge, access to information, exposure, etc.
Waris John Muftau got introduced to the game of chess in October 2018. During their outreach support events for street children in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, he was one of the few underprivileged street boys rescued by a non-profit organization—Satus Dignus Child Rescue Initiative.
At the age of nine (9), Waris found himself roaming and hustling to feed for himself in the street of Ibadan, especially around the Mokola axis when he could barely get essential support from his parents, who were financially incapacitated to take care of him and his siblings.
During his stay at the home facility, the organization partnered with a volunteer games club, Blazing Kings Games Club who engaged wards living in the home facility to learn board games such as chess, scrabble, and checkers during their games periods.
Waris and a few other boys developed a keen interest in chess and started to show competitive strength and passion. Waris and his peers later registered as members of the junior chess team at the Oyo State Sports Council, where he received more training and exposure from the coaching team led by Olabode Sofoluwe.
In September 2019, Waris, registered on the reserve board, joined three (3) other boys from the home facility qualified to represent Oyo state in the Under-15 National Sports Festival. The chess event happened at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. They interestingly won a team Silver medal. After that period, Waris performed outstandingly in various chess tournaments both in and out of school.
He won various medals, plaques, and certificates of excellence. He recently won the maiden edition of The Chess League, Ibadan, winning two Gold Medals and the Best Junior Player Award.
Waris, who recently completed his Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination, has had a consistent record of impressive academic performance since he was registered back in school about three (3) years ago.
Waris, now twelve (12), aspires to be an Engineer and Grandmaster at chess, hopes to support his family and be a good ambassador for his country—Nigeria when he is capable.