Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) is facing a race against time to raise a K10 million shortfall for the Africa Chess Individual Championship.
Malawi will host the continental showpiece from May 17 to 28 in Lilongwe.
In an interview yesterday, Chessam president Susan Namangale said the shortfall has come about because of an increase in the number of participants from across the continent.
She said: “There has been an overwhelming response from African countries such that the total cost of hosting this prestigious event has almost doubled.
“Chessam has failed to secure funding from government through Malawi National Council of Sports as well as the corporate world due to the short notice of the programme which comes as the country is battling effects of Covid-19.”
Namangale said the development has forced Chessam to press the panic button.
She said among others, they have been forced to shift the event to Golden Peacock Hotel.
“On the shift from Crossroads to Golden Peacock, we need to present it tactfully so as not to offend Crossroads or Golden Peacock. Initially, we were supposed to host the event at Crossroads, but we have moved it to Golden Peacock because they have accepted to offer their facilities at a much cheaper rate.
“Crossroads Hotel has been offering its facilities to Chessam for free during local events, but still the resources at our disposal cannot handle the costs,” said Namangale.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Ulemu Msungama said he is aware of Chessam’s predicament, after being briefed by Namangale.
“She said they have a K10 million shortfall, but it is difficult for us to step in due to the short notice.
“As government, we operate on a budget. Nevertheless, I referred them to our director of sports to discuss the issue and see if a solution can be found,” he said.
According to Chessam general secretary Leonard Sharra, 116 players from 20 countries have confirmed participation.
He said countries that have confirmed participation include Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, E-swatini, Eritrea, Liberia, Uganda, Senegal, Mali, Egypt, Algeria and Madagascar.
Chessam was given the hosting rights by the African Chess Union which has also pledged to meet most of the tournament’s expenses.