PH search for next Wesley So on

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Can the Philippines produce another world-class chess player in the mold of super GM Wesley So?

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) director Martin “Binky” Gaticales, certainly thinks so.

“But the whole country, and not just the chess community — should pitch in and help in this effort to find the next Wesley So,” said Gaticales during his appearance in the 28th “Usapang Sports” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports ( TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila.

Gaticales, also a director of the Philippine Executives Chess Association (PECA), said support from both public and private sector are necessary to discover and develop another super GM, who can follow the footsteps of So.

“With GM Wesley and some of our top players migrating to the United States, I think it’s about time we set our sights in search for more outstanding young players in the caliber of Wesley,” Gaticales told sportswriters during the weekly forum sponsored by the Philippines Sports Commission, National Press Club, PAGCOR, Community Basketball Association and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drinks.

With this in mind, Gaticales and several chess-loving individuals are now planning to organize a nationwide grassroots development program spread over five years aimed at producing the “next Wesley So of the Philippines.”

Added Gaticales: “I think it can be done. Kailangan lang maniwala tayo. Madaming magagaling na mga batang players, na maaaring nating i-develop sa susunod na mga taon.”

A former chess player himself in the early 80s, Gaticales is now starting to work to achieve this difficult task with the blessing of National Ches Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Cong. Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

“I presented this program to Cong. Pichay and he readily agreed to do it,” said Gaticales.

“As of now, may mga kinakausap na tayong possible private sponsors which we will tap to fund the tournament. I think it’s just right that we approach people from the private sector at huwag lang tayo basta umasa sa gobyerno.”

Gaticales claimed the search for the next super GM should not only be concentrated in Metro Manila alone but in other provinces as well.

“This is going to be a genuine grassroots program because we intend to search for chess talents even in the farthest barangays of the country. Kahit sa pinaka-malalayo,” Gaticales added. Gaticales also issued a call to corporate firms to sponsor the event, saying that training young minds will result in a better future for the country since playing chess will help young men to develop discipline, focus, and mental toughness.

“Let us help one another. Instead of wasting the minds of the youth, let us help them become future champions and future leaders, not only in the corporate world but in the whole country as well,” Gaticales added.

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