South African Players On International Draughts Stage

Landikhaya Makeleni of KwaNobuhle hopes to challenge world champion Lubabalo Kondlo of New Brighton

Eastern Cape draughts player Landikhaya Makeleni has been invited to play draughts (checkers) for four days in the United States, from 4 to 7 October for the Go-As-You-Please (GAYP) World Qualifying Tournament.

Participants include players from Italy, Burundi, Croatia, US, Kenya, and Congo. Each country sends two players. Makeleni will travel with another South African player from East London.

Makeleni is unemployed and lives in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage.

He needs R25,000 sponsorship. "At the moment, I am trying to approach any organisation that might offer help," he said. "I have never flown out of South Africa before."

The winner of the qualifying tournament earns the right to challenge World Champion Lubabalo Kondlo (of New Brighton, Port Elizabeth) in a match for the GAYP title in 2020.

"I will be delighted [if I win] because the world title will still remain in South Africa. I want South Africa to become a draughts powerhouse," he said.

He used to watch his father, Mbuyiseli, and others play draughts under a tree in their yard.

"My father and other elderly draughts players were regarded as legends," he said.

"I started playing a defensive game, called single corner. The elders developed me and assisted me on how to go about it, until I was promoted to play from B to A division," he said.

Makeleni is a member of the Hotspurs Draughts Club, which is affiliated to the Nelson Mandela Bay Draughts Association.

He said draughts is beginning to be taken seriously as a sport.

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