By Rawle Welch
In a conversation with Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony sometime ago on the subject of why more board games are not being played in schools, he quickly responded by telling me that once the Ministry is approached by legitimate representatives he would have no reservation in offering assistance to introduce the games to schools.
The Minister pointed out that Chess was been able to make a successful return to schools because of the persistence of members of the Federation who displayed the commitment and fortitude to ensure that the game made a complete resurgence.
According to Minister Anthony, what they also did was ensure that the game was not played only at the senior level, but more importantly that it enjoyed similar development at the junior plateau as well.
The Guyana Chess Federation conducted classes for teachers and students from various schools across the country and even invited a German Grandmaster sometime ago to Guyana to conduct workshops and play against students simultaneously, all aimed at boosting the image and popularity of the sport here.
The hosting of tournaments improved immensely since its resurgence and the Federation and Minister, who remains very supportive in every regard should be commended for such action.
The serious approach taken by members of the Body was probably what encouraged the Minister to extend his unequivocal support for the sport.
Those in charge of sports such as Scrabble and Draughts must now strive to duplicate the feat achieved by the Chess Federation, and as the Minister indicated to me, an invitation is on the table anytime if any representative of the two disciplines approached him or his Ministry for backing.
Having said that, it is now up to the relevant stakeholders within the two sports, to accept the challenge offered by the Minister and display the kind of seriousness that would merit similar intervention that Chess received.
Research has shown that the benefits of playing board games are numerous and at a time when the society is littered with negative distractions that has evidently been the source for the decline in social behaviour and low academic achievements, it is essential that those charged with the responsibility to help spread the games make it a priority to approach the relevant Ministers for their support and approval to introduce the games into the schools and help check the slide of our children into unhelpful pastime activities.
One of the most important benefits of playing board games is the interaction and bonding it brings to families.
Board games are a great way for family members to relax and challenge their minds.
It also helps children learn to think logically, while playing and having fun, they also practice such skills as counting, reading, visual perception, eye-hand coordination and dexterity.
They learn about healthy competition, verbal communication and to focus their attention. One of the most researched board games is chess and there have been frequent studies publicising the academic benefits of playing the game.
Studies have found that playing games such as chess increases reading performance, math ability and IQ.
It further stated that Chess develops a new form of thinking, and this exercise is what contributes to increase intelligence quotient.
Recent researchers speculate that the success of chess is due to the growth of new brain connections, while Scrabble, one of the best and most loved word games helps improve language skills.
Guyana could very well benefit from the introduction of more board games in schools and there should be no hesitation in bringing together the relevant stakeholders to consider the possibility of having them as part of the education curriculum.
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