The extent of Mdantsane’s chess talent has been highlighted with the invitation of five teenagers from the United Chess Club to compete at the South African Junior Chess Championships in Johannesburg next month.
However, only two players will attend the games due to financial challenges. Coach Zolani August said the youngsters had shown great determination throughout the year in learning and growing in the game.
August, a security guard at the department of human settlements, was introduced to the game in the 80s.
“I developed interest in the game the moment I started to play it. After playing for some time, I knew I had to share my love for it with the youngsters in my community, so they could also get to know what chess is all about.”
His daughters Thimna, 10, and Siyolise, 7, are also exceptional chess players who have represented Border at various competitions.
“I taught my children chess at a young age. Thimna was selected to go to Spain last year but she could not realise her dream due to a lack of money.”
His friend Mthunzi Hintsa motivated him to form the chess club in 2007.
“We were tired of the crime in our area, as well as seeing children roam around the streets, and decided to form a chess club. My friend knew nothing about chess but I coached him and together we taught these kids,” he said, adding that the number of club members continues to grow.
The father of five lives with his unemployed wife and children and says his home serves as the gathering place where the youngsters come to play chess.
When the Daily Dispatch visited his NU15 home, youngsters could be seen eagerly waiting to play against one another.
“I hope to see these children visiting other countries with the sport and that we may have grandmasters from Mdantsane to put us on the map.”
As a result of financial challenges, August sometimes pays out of his own pocket to transport children to competitions.
“It is not easy but I have to take from what I have because these children love the game.”
August also coaches at various schools around Mdantsane.
“We do not have anyone or sponsors to help us. Some parents see it as just a game that requires a lot of money [to attend the various competitions] while I see it as a game for the mind.”