“Chess is life and life is chess”. This is just one of many statements you’ll hear from those who are part of the five SOM (Sports Outreach Ministries) Chess academies in Kampala, Uganda. Operating in the poorest areas of Kampala, the chess academies begun by Coach Robert Katende have seen lives transformed through Chess linked with the Bible and intentional mentoring.
It is a story Disney thought worth telling when they recently produced the movie “Queen of Katwe”, a dramatic retelling of Uganda’s national chess champion Phiona Mutesi, whose life was transformed through chess and the Jesus-inspired discipling of Coach Robert.
“We never realised that Coach Robert was discipling us as he was teaching us chess but we see now that he was and still is.” This was just one of many comments made by some of the young adult Pioneer leaders of the Chess academies. Each leader had their own story of transformation, having worked tirelessly with the encouragement and mentoring of Coach to reach University, in spite of many difficulties.
Thirteen of these leaders recently spent a week, with a team from a GCF partner, creating lessons that link chess with life, the Bible and disciple making. Eighteen lessons were written and a guide for discipling young people through chess was born.
Coach Robert was unable to attend the writing workshop as he was taking Phiona and another Chess academy student Benjamin (also featured in the movie) to the USA to take up university scholarships. He said, “I feel so honoured for this project! Please thank everyone for the great work.”
So what’s next? The Chess leaders of the Katwe slums intend to try out the lessons with children who attend the academies in the next holidays. They spoke of seeing their role not just as chess teachers anymore but also as mentors and disciple-makers for Jesus. Their chess academies’ motto of “Transforming lives through Chess, one move at a time” is becoming a daily reality.
The chess lessons will be made available soon on max7.org.