KAMPALA. Kampala School for the Physically Handicapped (KSPH) has changed the lives of thousands of students since it was established in 1969, beneficiaries of the school chess club, have said. KSPH was established for the physical and mentally disabled children but apart from education and rehabilitation, sport is a major part of their learning. The school occupying just over five acres offers sitting volleyball, bocce, chess and wheelchair basketball which is expected to take off later this year.
Three years ago, Robert Katende of the famous Som Chess Academy that inspired the ‘Queen of Katwe’ movie, introduced chess at the school. Today, two members of the chess club are over the moon after finishing second at the third Fide World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled in New Jersey, USA from July 9-15.
Sharif Wasswa Mbaziira and Denis Mwesigye, finished sixth and fifth respectively to snap a team silver behind Russia after edging hosts, USA.
The two have been at the previous two world championships but were nowhere near the podium finish. Yet an improved four points apiece earned them recognition from the school and Princess Joan Nassolo, who received them on their return, yesterday.
“Before I started playing chess my life was meaningless. I used to play draught but chess made me become more competitive and strategic even in other parts of life,” 17-year-old Mbaziira, who could not get a school until he was nine years old, said. He now wants to be a Grand Master.
Mwesigye, who is also part of the school’s sitting volleyball team added that, “I was not sure of my capabilities at first, but coaches trained me and I can’t imagine my life without chess.”
Some 30 children took up chess when it was introduced in 2017 but only 20 remain in the club. Most of them have handlers who help them move the pieces.