Form 3 Chess hero with disability seeks funding to compete in South Africa

Alex Rotich alongside his trainer and students during a practice session.

Alex Kipkoech Rotich, a Form 3 student with disability, is seeking funding to compete in an international Chess tournament in South Africa.

He discovered his prowess in Chess when he joined Saint Patrick’s Iten from Kipsaos Primary in Elgeyo Marakwet County, having scored 366 marks in KCPE.

His life took another turn when his joints started hardening and inflaming, leading eventually to a stiffness and lock after a long and unsuccessful search for treatment.

But the joy of life was rekindled when he discovered Chess, supported by the school coach Shem Vilembwa who identified his talent.

Since that time, he has been passionately taken in by the game, winning awards that include People With Disabilities Under 18, the Kenya National Youth Championship held in Mangu High School in 2024, African National School Individual Championship held in Moi Girls Eldoret, and The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Art and Sports tournament hosted by the Kenya Academy of Sports, Nairobi.

Alex Rotich together with his team mates take a break to steam off at a stadium.

He also participated in the Kenya National Cadet Chess Championship finals in 2023 (under 16 category) held at Kisii School, KYNCC North Rift Qualifiers 2023 held in Chebisaas High School, Eldoret, and the Kenya National Schools Individual Chess Championship 2023 held in Gilgil, Nakuru.

This year, he has been invited for the 2024 African Youth Chess Championship to be held between 15th and 23rd June in South Africa.

African Youth Chess Championship invitation.

Kipkoech will be representing Kenya in the tournament that will bring together close to 51 countries in Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, among others.

However, he is aware that he might not be able to participate owing to the huge amounts of money required, which include the Visa and accommodation fees.

He had earlier qualified for a tournament in Egypt, which could possibly have changed his life, but missed because of funding.

“I’m happy that since I joined Saint Patrick’s Iten, my life has greatly changed because of Chess. I have discovered that despite the challenges that I have gone through, I have a chance to better myself. The game has also improved my performance in class as I’ve also been doing well,” Kipkoech said, asking well-wishers to help him make his dream a reality.

His coach said if he gets support to pursue Chess, he will be able to eke a living at an early age.


Students with disabilities should be provided with right environment to thrive

By Dennis Bett

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