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Chess whiz needs funding support for SA champs

Cape Times logo Cape Times 2019-03-08 Staff Writer
a person wearing a blue shirt © Provided by Cape Times Cape Town – Eleven-year-old Amahle Zenzile, who attends Imbasa Primary School, started playing chess for the Crossroads Chess Club about two years ago.

It didn’t take her long to become one of the best players in her age group, maintaining an impressive rating of 1054 and winning almost every tournament in which she participated in the Western Cape.

Coach Thando Hlakula, who has guided Amahle every step of the way, says her aptitude for chess is unmatched.

“From winning third place at the Brackenfell High Youth Chess Tournament in 2017, Amahle has gone on to win a number of gold and silver medals.

"She has been named best player a number of times. She is currently ranked the third-best player in the Western Cape and for her age category she is in the top 20 in South Africa,” Hlakula said.

Through participating in a number of chess events, many friendships have been formed along the way.

At the Western Province trials almost two years ago, Amahle met follow competitor Trinity van Beeck, 12, and the two became close friends.

“Amahle is one of my best friends in the chess community. We often hang out between matches and give each other encouragement and advice.

"She is an amazing player and a wonderful person. I once played against her and I thought it would be an easy win, but she outplayed me and I learnt a valuable lesson: never to underestimate your opponent,” Trinity said.

Last year, both Amahle and Trinity qualified to represent Western Province at the SA Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) in Johannesburg, where their team won silver, and they were both awarded gold for their respective boards.

At the event, Amahle qualified to move to the next round, the SAJCC Closed, to be held in Boksburg, Gauteng, from March 16-23, where she could go on to achieve her South African colours.

Despite this outstanding accomplishment, the cost of travelling to Boksburg for the tournament and covering the costs of transport there, food and accommodation is an obstacle standing in Amahle’s way.

When Trinity heard that Amahle might not make it to the finals due to financial constraints, she took matters into her own hands and created a campaign on donation-based crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy to appeal to the public to support her friend.

“I started the BackaBuddy campaign for Amahle because I want to help my friend even though I didn’t qualify. I know how much time she spends in training every single day; she works harder than any other chess player I know, and she deserves to represent our country.

"There are so few girls who play chess; it is a sport dominated by the boys, and so when a girl like Amahle comes along, we should all support her,” Trinity said.

The campaign, with a target of R12 000, went live on Wednesday and had already raised R4805.38, with contributions from 14 donors.

Amahle has a message for her donors: “Thank you to everyone who watched our video and donated to my BackaBuddy campaign. I didn’t think we would get this kind of response. Now everything seems possible for me.”

To make a donation to Amahle’s campaign on BackaBuddy, visit:

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