Text: Collins Young
This week will mark a new birth for chess in Kenya when an Interim Committee takes over the administration of the game from the incumbents whose controversial four year term ends this Saturday, April 21st.
The interim committee has been appointed by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs after a successful petition filed by aggrieved players to dislodge the incumbents after breaching various clauses of the Societies Act. The most serious of these as far as the players are concerned is failing to hold any national championships for the four years they have been in office despite being a sports body. The outgoing office also failed to call regular annual general meetings, give financial reports and reach out to the players as required by the Public Societies Act and expected of a sports body that gets some of it’s funding from taxpayers.
Chairing the meeting that decided the fate of Kenya’s chess on 5th April was the Secretary of the Ministry of Sports Prof. Wilson arap Lang’at. The meeting brought together the Chess Kenya executive against petitioning players’ representatives. Also in attendance were Gordon Oluoch ( Commisioner of Sports) and Douglas Ratemo (Chief Sports Officer). The Chess Kenya executive was represented by the vice chairman Francis Ngesa, secretary general Lawrence Kagambi and committee member Steve Ouma. The petitioning players were represented by Dr. Victor Ng’ani, John Mukabi, Githinji Hinga and Phillip Singe.
The interim committee will have nine members to be chaired by the Chief Sports officer, Douglas Ratemo. It will have a member each from the KNSC (Kenya National Sports Council) and the National Olympic Sports Committee, three members from the outgoing CK office and three players’ representatives who have already been decided on. They are Victor Ng’ani, Githinji Hinga and Paras Gudka. The committee will run the sport’s affairs for the next six months and is expected to solve or set the foundation for solving the perennial challenges dwarfing the intellectual game locally. Among its immediate duties will be to review and amend the game’s national constitution in preparation for free and fair elections that have been postponed for the six months the committee will be in charge.
It is important to note that chess is one of the disciplines competed for at the All Africa Games and Kenya was represented by both men and women’s teams in Maputo last year. Kenya has also been sending teams to the game’s biennial Olympiad for the last four decades. This year’s edition is scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey from August 27th to September 10th and organising qualifiers and moulding a strong team will be one of the tasks of the committee. Kenya has been waiting thirty years for its second ever medal at the event since the silver medal won by Saif Kanani in 1980.
Hopefully with the new lease of life there will be more events coordinated by the new governing team.