Following the visit this week by FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong and Asian Chess Federation Deputy President Casto Abundo to Vientiane, the Lao Ministry of Education and Ministry of Sports have agreed to establish a chess in schools program in Laos.
From left, ACF Deputy President Casto Abundo witnesses FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong hand over chess manuals to Laos Deputy Minister of Education LyTou Bouapao who agreed to establish Chess in Schools in Vientiane. Looking on are Ministry of Education Director General for Physical Culture & Sports Mr Chantaly, and Soulasith Oupravanh, Director General, International Sport Relation Department.
Meeting at the Ministry of Sports are, from left, Director General International Sport Relations Department Soulasith Oupravanh, ACF Deputy President Casto Abundo, FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong, Director General Elite Sports Department Sengphone Phonhamath, Lao National Olympic Committee Vice President Kasem Inthara and Minister of Education Director General for Physical Culture & Sports Mr. Chantaly.
Left to right: FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong and Somphou Phongsa, Lao National Committee of Sports and Culture Vice President,exchanging copies of the Memorandum of Understanding witnessed by ACF Deputy President Casto Abundo (right). Looking on in back are Sengphone Phonhamath, Director General Elite Sports Department and Soulasith Oupravanh, Director General International Sport Relation Department.
Asian Chess Federation president Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan had requested the FIDE General Secretary to assist in activating chess in Laos and Cambodia and tasked the ACF Deputy President to revitalize their dormant chess federations.
In his capacity ten years ago as Southeast Asian Zone President, Leong had visited Laos and Cambodia to establish their national chess federations.
During the recent 3-day visit from 24 to 26 February 2010, they met with officials of the Lao Ministry of Education, Lao National Committee of Sport and Physical Culture, and Lao National Olympic Committee and visited a model school in Vientiane. In the discussions, it was emphasized that children who learn chess perform better in school than those who do not.
In a spirit of cooperation, FIDE and the ACF shall provide technical support to assist in setting up a chess in schools program in Vientiane to advance the interests of chess in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
FIDE and the ACF will send FIDE Trainers and Arbiters to train chess teachers, chess administrators and arbiters in Laos. FIDE and the ACF shall provide the technical expertise and chess equipment to help the development of chess in Laos. Leong invited the Lao National Committee of Sport to a familiarization visit to Singapore to witness firsthand the Chess in Schools program and a Chess Academy.
The Lao National Committee of Sport pledged to restructure the Lao Chess Federation and participate in the 2010 Asian Games and 2011 Southeast Asian Games chess competitions.
FIDE President Invited to Cambodia
Earlier, Leong also visited Cambodia and held meetings with the National Olympic Committee Secretary General and several top officials. They expressed interest to support chess particularly because their Prime Minister is a strong player in Cambodia traditional chess which is quite similar to our international chess. In March, there will be a Prime Ministers Cup tournament in Cambodian traditional chess with over 200 players and they have invited the FIDE President to meet and play with their Prime Minister.
FIDE General Secretary General Ignatius Leong (center) giving chess sets and clocks to Mr Ly Hout (left), President of Cambodia Chess Federation and Mr Vath Chamroeun, Secretary-General of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
The chess federation officials from ten years ago had left Cambodia and hence communications with FIDE ceased. Chess is now under the Cambodia Chess Federation - re-organised in 2006 with Xiangqi, Cambodian traditional chess and International Chess. They had no information about Chess and appealed for a chess trainer who can teach in Mandarin language to all those who play Cambodian traditional chess so they could be converted easily, similar to the way China started in the '70s.
The Cambodian Chess Federation has a playing hall on the first floor of a Chinese restaurant owned by the CCF President who is a businessman and consultant to the NOC to create a lottery company for NOC. Both the NOC and the CCF are aware that Chess playing could keep the people away from drugs and is a healthy sport for all. The NOC is considering hosting the SEA Games 2015 and we can build on our relationship.