Refugee girls receive international chess prizes

12 February 2013

23 January 2013
West Bank

Three young Palestine refugee girls showed off their talent and creativity in international chess games this month, earning top prizes internationally.

14-year-old Yara, 13-year-old Nadeen, and 11-year-old Rahaf began playing chess as part of an UNRWA programme to incorporate extra-curricular activities in its schools.

Saturday chess activities

Every Saturday, in coordination with the Qattana Sport Club, UNRWA’s Qattana School near Jerusalem trains students in many sports and activities. Among these activities is chess, which is taught by the Sport Club’s Dia’a Al-Faqeeh, an international chess trainer and judge.

“I am proud of being the trainer of UNRWA students in Qattana. UNRWA schools have five female chess players who are classified as international chess players according to the international standards of chess. “

The Saturday activities have given our players an opportunity to learn and practice chess”, he added.

Receiving regional and international prizes

After gaining membership to the Palestine National and Olympic team for chess, the girls went on to represent Palestine in many regional and international chess champions.

Yara was the youngest participant in the 2012 World Chess Olympiad held in Turkey where she was able to compete with other world chess players.

In the same year, all three participated in an Arab World chess competition held in Yemen for youth between the ages of 10 to 20 years. During the competition, Rahaf was able to gain the first prize after defeating her Egyptian competitor.

Rahaf added: “It is an interesting experience. Playing chess helps us to improve our thinking skills and raise our educational capabilities.”

Yara then went on to express her future plans saying: “I dream of becoming an international chess player champion. I want to train other Palestinian girls and give them a chance to improve their skills.”