By Alimatou S Bajinka & Jankey Ceesay
Members of Chess Players Association called on The Gambia Chess Federation to hand over power following their ‘overstay’.
“The [tenure of the]Federation is long overdue and we should go for a congress. We have been writing to the National Sports Council, and they have never responded to any of our letters. We were asked to go back to the Gambia Chess Federation, who did not even want to see us. We tried many times to see the president to discuss the Association of Chess Players and a way forward but to no avail. We believe that they are incompetent and the Gambia Chess fraternity has lost confidence in them. So they should go for a congress,” Joseph Dallas, Assistant Secretary-General of Chess players association stated.
He said that the fight of power between the Gambia Chess Players Association and the Gambia Chess Federation commenced about 2 years ago and it continues.
“FIDE [a French word meaning World Chess Federation], the planning and development community that assists developing Nations on Chess. The community gave the Federation 12,470 Euros, which the Association of Chess Players were not informed, nor were we told how the money was spent, until FIDE published the audit’s account, which shows that 12,470 Euro [over half a million Dalasi], was sent by FIDE to the Federation for the Chess Players. We were told during one of our Annual General Meetings that we only had a D1, 000 in our coffers, which is unbelievable because the federation has not conducted any competition or any other activity that might have cost lots of spending,” Mr Dallas alleged.
Mr Dallas told Journalists that recently when they wrote to the National Sports Council telling them of their intention to organize a press conference, that was when the Executive Director of the [National] Sports Council responded to our letter and said he was off the knowledge that he was a former official member of the Gambia Chess Federation, which is sad because it was already written in our constitution- meaning he hasn’t been reading our letters and constitution.
He alleged that the authorities took the Association of Chess Players so lightly not knowing that the association is representing and striving for the country; saying ‘unfortunately, those representing us are eating funds meant for the Chess Players.”
Meanwhile, Alieu Sallah, a member of the Association expressed dissatisfaction with the National Sports Council, and urged them to take necessary steps within their powers, in ensuring that the Federation conduct congress.
He suggested that the Gambia Chess Federation should write to the National Sports Council and tell them that they are going for a congress, or the National Sports Council should force them.
“They should resign because they are not ready, willing and fit to handle the game of chess. We have never participated in any regional or Africa Continental tournament, which is very sad, and locally we play only one tournament, which we are used to playing in the Gambia, which is the National Championship to select the team going for Olympia. Throughout the year, we play only two tournaments. All we are asking for, is to give the players the chance to handle the game they love because they are draining both the boys and the game.
“We want the Gambia Chess Federation to give us the mantle to rejuvenate the game of chess by training the younger ones, as Chess is a game of the mind which includes lots of thinking. That is why we would want the younger and fresh brains to take the lead but the National Sports Council still wants to maintain the current executive of the Gambia Chess Federation,” he said.
Mr Sallah accused that the Game of Chess is retarding in the Gambia that is why they want the current Executive to resign in good faith.
“The Gambia Chess Federation was established in 2012 and the current executive came to power in 2016. In 2012, we went to the Olympia in Norway, Azerbaijan in 2016, 2018 Georgia, 2020 because of the COVID 19 it has to be suspended and the Olympia was done online, the Olympia is currently ongoing online. We have about 36 Chess Clubs in the Gambia,” Alieu informed.
The Association of Chess Players made the remarks on Monday at a press conference held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
The responses of the National Sports Council and Gambia Chess Federation would feature in our subsequent story, if available.