Young Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi

photo credit: Stephanie Sinclair,

Our inspiration of the day is Phiona Mutesi, the 15-year-old from Uganda who is making her mark in the world of chess.
“In chess, it does not matter where you come from, only where you put the pieces”, says her coach and mentor Robert Katende, the Ugandan soccer player who started a chess program in the slum community of Katwe in Kampala where Phiona lives.
She learned the game at the age of 9 and quickly emerged on the Ugandan chess scene, winning tournaments first at home, then in regional competition in South Sudan.  Phiona earned a place on the Ugandan team to the World Chess Olympiad in Siberia.


Phiona Mutesi and Ugandan chess teammates

Phiona (right) and her teammates come from very poor families. Photo credit:

“When I first saw chess, I thought, what could make all these kids so silent?” Phiona recalls. “Then I watched them play the game and get happy and excited, and I wanted a chance to be that happy.”
According to the Uganda Chess Federation, the proven ability of the children of Katwe has caused a chess revolution in the country.

What you can do

Start a chess club in your school or your neighborhood.  Chess pieces can be made by carvers into uniquely Ghanaian shapes!

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