Digicel donates $450,000 to JCF as part of new partnership
The Digicel National Chess Championships are set to get under way today at Christar Villas in Kingston.
The telecommunications company has partnered with the Jamaica Chess Federation to stage the Championships by providing a sum of $450,000 for the sport which has grown significantly over the past few years.
Delighted about the new possibilities, President of the Jamaica Chess Federation Ian Wilkinson said the new partnership with Digicel is a perfect fit.
"The National Championships is our marquee event and Digicel is a marquee brand, it's a perfect fit. It gives us greater exposure; it elevates the bar to a level that we've never been. It also gives the players, the organisers and the administrators a fair degree of comfort in that a number of our expenses, administrative and otherwise, will be covered," said Wilkinson.
Currently, there are approximately 100,000 chess players in Jamaica and according to the federation president, the sport has seen approximately 20,000 new players in the last five to six years.
"Without doubt it (chess) is widely recognised as the fastest growing sport in the country and we are very excited about it. The Chess in Schools programme is also thriving and this partnership with Digicel can help tremendously in putting that forward on a greater level," Wilkinson noted.
An awarding-winning chess player himself, Digicel Jamaica CEO Barry O'Brien was pleased to join forces with the federation. "Digicel is delighted to be on board. We see this as a long-term relationship. Chess as a sport is growing in Jamaica and we know the direct positive impact that it has on two areas that we are very focused on — education and literacy. So we are truly pleased to support the National Championships as title sponsor and to see the impact this will have on the youth and Jamaica in general."
Continuing, O'Brien pointed to how mobile internet technology has also transformed how the sport can be played. "As a mobile telecommunications company, we also see the development of chess apps on smart phones as another vehicle to share the positive impact chess has on players' intellectual development," he added.
The partnership between Digicel and the Jamaica Chess Federation comes on the heels of the recent visit by Russian Chess Grandmaster and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, who attended and addressed an amateur chess tournament hosted in his honour on April 5.
Students from various high schools across the corporate area participated in the tournament which was sponsored by Digicel.
Digicel CEO Barry O'Brien (right) was delighted to hand over a symbolic cheque valued at $450,000 to President of the Jamaica Chess Federation Ian Wilkinson signalling the company's sponsorship of the Digicel National Chess Championships which begin today.