Former world-champion challenger and FIDE Director for Chess Development Nigel Short's recent trip to the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has infused fresh momentum into the prospects of chess in this part of Africa.
As a part of his African tour, Nigel Short visited the Kingdom of Eswatini from November 16 to November 20. In his capacity as FIDE Director for Chess Development, Short met government and chess officials to discuss how to better promote the game in the Kingdom.
Upon arriving, Short attended a reception at the British High Commission, celebrating the birthday of King Charles III, where he met with the prime minister of Eswatini Russel Mmemo Dlamini, state officials and diplomats. Later that evening, he appeared on national television for a prime-time interview where he spoke about the game and the future of chess.
On the second day of the visit, Short met with senior government sports officials. The discussion focused on the implementation of chess in education programs. It was agreed that the government would introduce a pilot program in 20 schools, mainly in rural areas, where chess will be taught as of next year as a part of a Chess in Schools initiative which FIDE has been promoting across the globe.
In meetings with the officials of the Eswatini Chess Federation, Short heard about the challenges facing the chess community in the kingdom and discussed how FIDE can help promote the game.
During his stay, Short also visited local chess clubs, played a simul, and gave a masterclass on chess at the Trojan Horse Club in Manzini. Nigel Short also met with the Chief Executive Officer of the Eswatini Sports & Recreational Council (ESRC).
The FIDE Director for Chess Development finished his visit with a trip to the Matsapha maximum security prison, where the ECF has an ongoing pilot program, where he attended a tournament for inmates.
"I believe that if more resources are invested in the country's chess development, it could pave the way for greater success and competitiveness. I believe that with the right support and infrastructure, Eswatini could produce some of the best chess players in the region," said Short in a brief media discussion with the local media.
Eswatini Chess Federation (ECF) Secretary General Qiniso Matsebula said that as a federation, they are thrilled to welcome the renowned grandmaster from the UK. Short provided insightful knowledge and advice to chess enthusiasts of the country.
"We are honoured to have Grandmaster Nigel Short joining us. His expertise and experience in the world of chess will undoubtedly provide valuable inspiration and knowledge to us," he said.