Touching lives through sport
Keenese Katisenge

BNSC Sports Administrator, 2015

In her quest and commitment to develop youngsters and expose players to international standards of sport, Keenese Katisenge started Limitless Minds Chess Academy last year.

The Maun Born Katisenge is a Chess International Organiser (IO), National Instructor (NI) and Fide Arbiter (FA) as well as former Botswana Chess Federation Public Relations Director.

Apart from being passionate about sport development Katisenge is also Pula Medical Aid Brand Manager.

Our Reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo had a chat with this multi skilled and award winning sport administrator woman to discuss her passion for nurturing talent and sport development.

Q. What made you start chess academy?

A. The main objective was to compliment the efforts of the Botswana Chess Federation in growing and advancing the game of chess in Botswana.

I have been in the federation administration for over 8 years and I appreciate that the federation executive committee cannot achieve this alone and therefore needs active affiliates to help it achieve its mandate.

We are one big family as the Botswana Chess Community and it is the little efforts that we each make that made chess to become one of the leading sporting codes in Botswana.

Q. What impact can this academy bring in the development of young chess players?

A. The academy will help add value through empowerment workshops or seminars, Chess training camps and hosting of International chess events of high standard. Our first international event will be in November this year and we have appointed a Local Organising Committee, which is working hard behind the scenes to secure sponsorship in order to deliver a successful event.

We will also add life skills training and empowerment to our programmes as we would like to help produce well rounded citizens and exceptional individuals beyond the chessboard.

Q. I understand you introduced chess for blind players, why did you find it necessary to do so?

A. Chess is a game that can be played by anyone regardless of disability or age. It is one of the most inclusive games in the world.

I strongly believe that everyone should be given an opportunity to demonstrate their talent.

I believe in inclusion and supporting the marginalized, which is why when we introduced our programmes we made kids living with disability our top priority.

I believe that they should not be treated as an afterthought.

I have also had some interactions before with Oteng Mankge, a coach who used to bring senior visually impaired players at our tournaments when I was still part of the BCF Leadership and got interested in starting chess at grassroots level of the Visually Impaired Community.

Q. What are some of the challenges you face in running your academy?

A. The major challenge is shortage of equipment. We use Braille Chess Sets for our Chess for the visually impaired and they are expensive.

We also need some audio material, chess software, laptops and books in Braille and they are also expensive.

We had hoped that by now we would have taken the chess for the visually impaired programme to the other centre in Francistown but we have not managed to do so due to shortage of resources.

We have a fundraising model within the academy but it is still very far from what we need.

Q. How is the response from players?

A. The response is amazing and touching from both the players and coordinators.

Our visually impaired players have dreams of one day representing the country at an international level and we will make it a reality for them.

They are very smart and are grasping things quickly.

We are also lucky to have engaged hardworking and passionate coaches especially for the Centre in Mochudi.

The lead coach in Mochudi is Mankge and we play a supporting role to ensure that he is well equipped to deliver with current coaching techniques.

We are also grateful to the Botswana Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted and the Mochudi Resource Centre for the Blind for the partnership and support.

Touching lives through sport
Kaisenge in action

Q. How did you manage to penetrate this male dominated sport administration?

A. I made it this far through self-motivation, passion, sacrifices and surrounding myself with those who guide, support and believe in me.

I was part of a very supportive leadership at BCF under the two committees I have served with.

I have also attended different empowerment workshops for women hosted by different bodies including IWG and WASBO and they have come in handy in my continuation with sport administration.

Most Women quit because of increasing responsibilities as they go through life so it’s important to have strong support system, especially from family.

Q. You attended 2015 United Nations Office for Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) Youth Leadership Programme’s International Sport and Social Impact Summit, how did it help in your development as a sport administrator?

A. The ultimate objective was for the attendants of the course to later on use the learning to advance sports in their countries with a view to touch the lives of many through sports.

We were selected because we had demonstrated in our own communities that sport could be a powerful tool for development and also for displaying leadership qualities, which resonated with the objectives of the course.

This summit basically shaped my vision and structure for Limitless Minds Chess Academy.

I came back with an open -minded approach to sport administration.

Q. You stood for the BNOC elections, where do you think you lost it?

A. I was part of a team of women who were ready to take sport to another level.

I think the voters were not ready for an all women team as we were de-campaigned on the basis of that though we had worked hard to sell our capabilities and our vision.

The important thing now is that we are all in different ways still part of sport and contributing to the growth of the sporting industry because at the end of the day Sport should be the winner.

Q. Any intentions of going back to BCF?

A. I am still part of BCF as an affiliate thus part of chess development and yes I have intentions of going back to BCF Leadership in future.

We give every committee a chance and opportunity to take chess to another level at BCF and the year will come when the chess community affords me and other aspiring chess leaders the same opportunity.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. My parents Keolebogile Katisenge and Lesedi Katisenge.

I have observed them for years give their all to anything they put their hands to and I have seen them make sacrifices for others and family.

I have seen them serve others and God. I have heard them pray for us and for others every night.

My parents have maintained a positive attitude to life no matter the challenges we have been through.

Q. What can you say are some of your greatest achievements as a sport administrator?

A. Having had the opportunity to represent my country and continent at the UN Summit and having been able to implement what I learnt for the benefit of my community.

Getting recognition from the BNSC for the input I have had in the development and growth of chess in Botswana when I won the BNSC Sports Administrator of the Year award in 2015.

Receiving an International Organiser qualification in 2014, which helped me contribute to successful hosting of international events.

Most importantly witnessing our programmes and hard work bearing fruit in the growth of our players and officials and BCF becoming one of the successful sporting brands.

Q. What are your future plans for the academy?

A. I want to restructure it. We are working on a different model and structure for our programmes.

Programmmes for the disadvantaged and marginalized groups are going to be implemented through a different model and we will update stakeholders after we have successfully completed our restructuring process.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are you plans for the weekend?

A. Saturday morning is reserved for our training programmes in Gaborone and another at Mochudi Resource Centre for the Blind.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday is dedicated to me and my family.

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