A chess club which not only inspired many, but also gave birth to a prodigy

The inspiring story of a chess club founder, that led to the rise of a prodigy, turns into a Disney movie

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Katwe, Uganda, Mar 21, 2017: Fourteen years ago, Robert Katende started a chess club for the disadvantaged children in the slums of Kampala. Today, the program attracts hundreds of kids in three hundred locations across Uganda.

In an interview with the VOA, Katende said, “I had never imagined what it has turned out to be because all that i was doing was looking out to how best i can empower these kids, and help the realise their full potential.”

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Disney’s new movie, “Queen of Katwe” tells the story of these chess clubs and the Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi, a young girl who became a World Chess Champion, despite her background.

The film is set in the slums of Katwe in the capital of Uganda and how these chess clubs became an inspiration for many.

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Katende originally wanted to start a football club for the disabled children. However, when he noticed that they were not too keen about sports, he decided to teach them chess instead.

Katende started out with a group of five boys and called them the Pioneers. Phiona Mutesi joined the club sometime later and soon, the team was travelling around the Globe representing Uganda in international competitions.

Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi, Source: VOA

Richard Tugume, one of the original pioneers thinks that the film will actually touch a lot of lives in Uganda. He said, “personally, i believe now that it doesn’t matter wherever you come from, as people here come from slums. But whoever will watch that movie would be able to know that there is life outside Katwe.”

In the movie, local actors shared stage with stars like British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo who plays Katende.

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Oyelowo said, “it was invaluable shooting in Katwe.”

Many Ugandan actors who star in the movie are themselves familiar with poverty. Thus, the actors too felt a strong connection to the script.

The movie too, true to its word, tells an amazing story of believing in yourself.

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf