Undisputed former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has come to the rescue of chess in Zimbabwe.
With less and less sponsorship coming from the corporate world due to the harsh economic environment in the country, Kasparov donated playing equipment which will be channeled towards the sport’s development programme.
The Russian grandmaster and former world number one donated the equipment through the Garry Kasparov Foundation chess sets, boards, as well as clocks, which the president of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation Charles Kuwaza says will go towards the association’s Taking Chess To The People Programme.
Kasparov, who held the world title for over a decade, was in Zimbabwe in July last year and pledged to assist the country’s chess development programme in the same way he has done in Zambia where the sport has grown to very high levels.
Kuwaza says Kasparov, who became the youngest world champion at the age of 22 and also became the first chess champion to play against a computer before losing to the IBM Computer Deep Blue, has promised more help in the near future.
Kasparov’s donation comes at a time when sport in general is not receiving the expected support from the corporate world while the $10.5 million allocation from the national budget is not enough for the close to 40 sporting associations affiliated to the Sport and Recreation Commission.
Already $3 million of that government funding has been set aside for refurbishment of facilities while $1.5 million is going to the SRC, leaving only $5.5 million for the national sporting associations to share.
Although it has not received the recognition it deserves, chess is one of the fastest growing sports in Zimbabwe with activity spreading all over the country in homes, in schools, in the streets, in bars, in clubs, and in tournaments.
It is also one of the most popular games in the world, played by millions all over the globe and Kasparov remains the sport’s greatest ever player.