Hard work and dedication were rewarded when Makhaza-based Sinakho High School’s girl’s chess team won the Western Province Top Schools championship held in Caledon last month.
The team of six girls – Yamkela Silwana, Khanya Zinja, Amahle Nkomo, Amahle Maciko, Asenathi Bunati and Anovuyo Ncubela – will now represent the province at a national tournament in Mangaung in October.
A thrilled coach, Petrus Fortuin, hailed his teams as “champions with mental fortitude”.
“These girls are amazing, and the way they moved their pieces was impressive,” he said.
Mr Fortuin said what inspired him was that despite losing most of their chessboards after a burglary at the school, the children had continued practising.
“For me, that was a blow, but these children put that behind them and focused on the tournament,” he added.
Deputy principal Nomvuyo Msikisiki also praised the “young warriors” saying they were flying the Sinazo High School flag high.
“This is a huge achievement for our school and the community at large. This will encourage other learners to take part in sporting codes offered here. Sports and education go hand in hand,” said Ms Msikisiki.
She said the game of chess was stimulating their intellectual capacity. “This is a thinking game, and Coach Fortuin is always challenging them to up their game,” she said.
Amahle, the team’s captain, said she was looking forward
to the tournament. “We are
ready to face new challenges,” she said.
Vice-captain Yamkela, somewhat of veteran traveller, has been to three national championships, representing the province in 2014, 2015, 2016 and the upcoming trip.
“Chess has helped me to stay focused, and I thank our coach for having faith in us,” said Yamkela, who won a gold medal at the provincial games.
Khanya, who started playing at the age of nine, lists chess masters like Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer and Susan Polgar and Mzansi’s own grandmaster, Watu Kobese, as her inspiration.