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World Chess CEO Borg: Bangladesh risk falling behind

  • Published at 03:09 am March 13th, 2018
World Chess CEO Borg: Bangladesh risk falling behind
Despite Niaz Murshed becoming South Asia's first Grandmaster three decades ago, only four more from Bangladesh have managed to get into the most prestigious club of world chess since then. The last among them, Enamul Hossain Razib, joined the club approximately a decade ago and since then, 23 Indians have achieved GM title, but no Bangladeshi has managed the feat. The CEO of World Chess Federation (Fide) Geoffrey Borg, who worked on the development of chess in Turkey, Indonesia and South Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal, pointed out that a country with five GMs is supposed to have at least 20 International Masters. Sadly, Bangladesh have only three IMs. Praising Bangladesh for being "technically capable of reaching the highest level" in chess, Borg urged several times for the country to wake up in order to give more concentration and priority to chess development by creating a strong base in the grass-root level, and introducing chess club in schools, as well as including the game in the educational curriculum. "The grass-root level requires significant investment and efforts," said Borg, mentioning Bangladesh's advantage of having a population of 170m people. He added, "Following meetings with the [State] Minister for youth and sports, the secretary of the ministry of sports, secretary general of the [Bangladesh] Olympic Committee, and the president of the [Bangladesh] chess federation, we all agreed we should start at the base, create a chess environment in Bangladesh. "So the project that we would be focusing on is trying to introduce the game in the schools. The ministry of sports has very strongly supported our recognisation, and they are ready to work together with us, along with the federation, to encourage and work with the ministry of education so that we can get this programme on ground." He continued, "When you start looking at 20m children potentially playing chess, particularly between the ages of five to 12, this is when the human brain develops the fastest, requiring longest life skills. This is where we should be focusing. I explain also to the minister this morning, that this is not only about chess, it is also like other life skills like languages, drama, music, art, and chess is just one of life skills which helps someone be responsible citizen in the future." Borg also informed that he discussed with the ministry whether chess can be a subject in the curriculum. He referred Armenia, who have won a couple of gold medals in the last four Olympics, despite having a population of three million. Armenia made chess a compulsory subject in the curriculum, including it in the education budget. "Your competition is not in Bangladesh but also around the world. Even in Asia, Vietnam spend three million dollars in chess. If you don't start development, you fall behind. By standing still also you are actually falling behind. It's not only sport, but also educational tool, which is actually good for the nation," said the 55-year old, who is currently holding the general secretary post of Mediterranean Chess Association, as well as the president's post of Malta Chess Federation. Borg was a Fide Master during his playing career before becoming the senior Fide trainer, as well as the Fide arbiter. After introducing chess in school, Borg also talked about the next level, which is to train the teachers. Borg informed that they would start seminars in July in order to get more professional trainers for the country.
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