By Olando Testimony Zeongar
MONROVIA – The Mayor of Liberia’s largest city, Monrovia, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, on Monday, 25 July 2022, extended farewell to a departing 13-member delegation of the Chess National Team, at his Monrovia City Hall office.
The Liberian chess team comprising a huge female presence and dominant youthful membership is headed for Poonjeri Village in Mamallapuram, 50 km from Chennai, in India, where the world’s biggest chess event, the 44th International Chess Olympiad will be held this year from 28 July to 10 August.
This is the country’s second appearance at the World Chess Olympiad, which is equivalent to the World Cup, in soccer – Liberia being a dominant soccer-loving country. The Chess National Team’s first participation was in 2018, when the country traveled with a seven-member delegation including five players.
Mayor Koijee, hosting the chess delegation prior to their departure, in his conference room, amid a huge media presence, intoned that the game of chess is not an ordinary game, noting that “chess is for thinkers.”
He expressed gratitude to the Liberia Chess Federation (LCF) and members of the delegation, for flying Liberia’s flag internationally.
“We are glad that these Liberians here are trying to put the country on the map,” said Koijee, adding, “that’s why I want to say we’re very grateful to His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, who is beginning to put spotlight on some of those hidden talents that the country can be spotted in different dimensions – even when you come to soccer; the Under-17, the Under-20, we’re beginning to make headways, even in our female soccer, we see those young girls making headways.”
He stated that now was the time Liberians looked for other values other than politics, so as to elevate the country on the global stage.
Howbeit, he emphasized that it brought joy to his heart that the Liberians on the Chess National Team were engaged in a venture aimed at putting smiles on the faces of Liberians.
“So, we’re glad that this team can be a thing that can project our country on the map, on the world stage,” Mayor Koijee stressed, adding, “We are very glad that wonderful Liberians like you here, you’ve become symbols of nationalism and patriotism – what you do here today, is something that we are very proud of.”
He used the occasion to call on the Chief Patron of sports, President Weah, for what he (Koijee) referred to as more focus, to be placed on the game of chess, with another call for increased budgetary allotment to the Liberia Chess Federation.
“We know you’re already in the Budget, but we need to think how we can see about increasing your budgetary allotment,” Mayor Koijee said, amid thunderous applause from members of the chess delegation.
Earlier, Head-of-Delegation, and President of the Liberia Chess Federation, Mr. Thomas Karyah, introduced members of his delegation and noted that the LCF was excited over the Liberian government’s support that he said has enabled the Federation for the first time, to be travelling abroad with a team reflecting full female representation.
The Chess National Team’s delegation, with Mr. Karyah as Head-of-Delegation, is traveling along with five male players, including current national champion, Bobby Ballah; FIDE Master (FM) Barcon Harmon; Candidate Master (CM) Daniel Kolliemenen; Arnold Smith and Joel Ebiekuta; all of who will be competing in the Open-Section category – five females, including current Female Chess Champion since 2019, 13-year-old Abigail Karyah; former Female Chess Champion, 2018-2019, Teta Thompson; Attorney at Law, Windor Tarplah, who is also a former Female Chess Champion, 2016-2018; another 13-year-old, Meleh N. Davis and 17-year-old Princess Banney. Both captains of the female squad and male Open-Section team are also on the trip to India.