The first International School Sports Federation (ISF) event that The Bahamas participated in is over and the local organizers were satisfied with the progress made and look forward to performing even better next year.
The ISF Chess Virtual World Schools Championship Online Tournament wrapped up this past Saturday. The president of the Bahamas ISF Chapter, Rupert Gardiner, and the Bahamas Chess Federation (BCF) president, Elton Joseph, were impressed with the results and will look to do even better.
“We will work on getting more kids in the finals next year. This is just the beginning. We were one position shy of having another female in the final with Daijah Johnson. There are also other competitors who participated this year and tasted the competition who will be looking to be better. Once we can get the competition going among schools and Caribbean, we will rise to be one of the top countries in the world,” Gardiner said.
“The federation is proud of all of our players,” Joseph said. “There were 13 players that participated in the tournament. Woman Candidate Master Daijah Johnson was able to qualify for the finals. Many others came very close and she did well… We look forward to the progress that our players will make next year.”
Out of the 13 student-athletes that performed, nine were boys and four were girls. Those that participated included Johnson (Aquinas College), Trinity Pinder (Doris Johnson Senior High School), Olga Roussos (homeschooled), Candidate Master Nathan Smith (homeschooled), Aiden Mart (homeschooled), Noah Albury (St. Augustine’s College), Trevor Bridgewater (Queen’s College), Curtis Pride Jr. (homeschooled), Hodari Prince, Makayala Horton (St. Augustine’s College), Avian Pride (homeschooled), Seth Roberts (Queen’s College) and Daniel Ramtulla (Queen’s College).
The tournament got under way October 3.
Johnson made history when she became the first Bahamian to advance to the final round of the tournament. A feat she did in the under-17 (U-17) girls category. Roussos was one position shy of making the final in that same age category.
Johnson was able to secure four wins out of nine rounds and finished 26th out of 40 competitors in the final.
In the qualifying round, she placed 38th overall with five wins. Roussos scored 4.5 points and Pinder finished with four points. Smith ended up with 5.5 points, Albury finished with 4.5 points, and Curtis Pride, Prince and Mart finished with 4.0 points apiece. Bridgewater scored three points.
Aiden Pride finished with 4.5 points, Roberts scored three points and Ramtulla scored 2.5 points. Horton registered three points.
After seeing the success that the country got from the tournament, Gardiner, who is also a Senior Sports Officer in the Ministry of Education (MOE) Sports Unit, will be looking to establish chess programs at the primary, junior high and senior high schools. Gardiner said that chess will be one of the top sports now and students can see the team did well and the competition is stiff. Apart from chess, the Sports Unit will look to bring to schools other sports like fencing. He hopes to see different sports rise at a different level.
Joseph is encouraged by that and said that it is something that the federation has been trying to officially do for many years. He mentioned that veteran chess coach Warren Seymour went into some 30 schools to teach chess.
“We want to have chess as a class in schools but any contribution to getting chess as officially part of the school, we will be there. If we can get chess integrated with a teacher and organized programs, that will be good for the federation and the country. It is one of the few sports that is recognized as [both] a sport and an educational tool. It helps with critical and consequential thinking, planning, leadership and other skills. Those who join can eventually join a club and help develop them into competitive players,” Joseph said.
Joseph was grateful for the work that the MOE Sports Unit and the media did as the tournament was publicized quite a bit. As a result, they have seen an uptick in persons who have shown interest to join the federation. They are willing to help anyone who wants to join the federation and help the sport to progress.
The BCF will be hosting a qualifiers soon for the FIDE (International Chess Federation) Online World Cadets and Youth Rapid Chess Championships. That FIDE tournament will see U-10, U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18 open and female divisions. It is set to take place between November 27-December 13.
For Gardiner, the work does not stop at the tennis tournament. They will be working on the 2021 ISF season calendar year and hopefully when the COVID-19 pandemic slows down or is over, they can travel. They have sports such as a volleyball tournament in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil; beach volleyball in Bat-Yam, Israel; and the multi-sport event, the Gymnasiade School Summer Games, in Jinjiang, China.
With the assistance of the Bahamas Olympic Committee earlier in the year, the MOE Sports Unit applied to become a member of the ISF. In July, the ISF approved the application and now Bahamian student-athletes can participate in ISF competitions against some of the top high school student-athletes around the world.