Where to begin…

What a crazy few months it has been for Robert and Phiona with the filming of Queen of Katwe and their extra time needed there to the growth of the chess program in Uganda and Kenya and the nearing completion of the future Chess Academy and Mentoring Center!! It’s all so exciting, so we will just get to it:

Lupita at a Disney event

Lupita N’yongo speaking at a Disney event

We will start with the movie filming, since I know that naturally stirs instant jitters in all of us!  The Queen of Katwe filming has wrapped as far as know and is now in the editing phase!  Check out the Disney link for the movie.  We are still not positive on a release date, that is something that they like to keep close until they know for sure!  But, all news from Robert, who was on set probably 75% of the time helping and answering any questions, everything went really well and he seems very excited for the movie!

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Chess Program in Nairobi, Kenya

Now lets talk some chess, it is incredible how this program just continues to grow month to month.  More and more children become interested and more and more doors and opportunities seem to open and become available.  It is such a blessing the way this program helps so many children!  In Nairobi, Kenya where this program is barely a year old, they already have numerous chess programs.  They have even begun a special chess program for those with physical or mental handicap with the objective always being to share the gospel of Christ and also encourage the handicapped on the values of self esteem and to nurture talents as one way of solving our problems.

Kenya Special Chess Program 2 Kenya Special Chess Program

It’s also very exciting that a dear friend of the chess ministry, Beatrize Marinelli, who works with the World Chess Federation, FIDE, is traveling to Uganda this week.  She will be visiting and training for four days in Gulu, Uganda and four days in Kampala, Uganda.  Beatrize has a team with her of coaches so that they can help answer, train and coach the current coaches and teachers while also delivering 40 chess sets to each location! WOW!   It will also be an awesome experience for her to see the Chess Academy and Mentoring Center which is part of the Kampala Ministry Center in person!  The Kampala Ministry Center will in addition to having a Chess Academy and Mentoring center, will have eight children’s homes, a school, public health facility, chapel, soccer field, basketball court, and much more.  If you would like to know more about this center or how you can get involved with this, please email us at, info@sportsoutreach.net.

Chess Academy July 1 Chess Academy July 2 Chess Academy July 3

Make sure you check back next month for more updates on the growth of the chess program, the building of the Chess Center and the movie!

US Embassy Visit

This month, Coach Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi were invited by the USA Ambassador to start a Chess program in the US      Embassy Information Resource Center.  Coach Robert picked six children from the program to escort him and they were all able to enter the US  Embassy and meet with the Ambassador.

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Coach Robert  and   Phiona   presented   at   the   meeting   and   they  presented the Ambassador   with an autographed copy of the Queen of Katwe. The ambassador was very thankful to receive a copy of the book and he said he shall treasure that copy as one of the special items in his home!  The students to attend, applied via internet and among them was a lecturer from Makerere University.   The speaker was very thankful for the event and inspired enough to promise to mobilize other lecturers and some of her students to come and attend the sessions since they are once every month.  It was an amazing experience for everyone and just another way to demonstrate how chess is changing lives one move at a time!

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Queen of Katwe Movie News!

The filming has wrapped in Kampala and they have moved to South Africa.  With the move to South Africa also went six chess players from the Kampala Chess program who have never been outside of Uganda.  This is an amazing opportunity and experience for these children and we are incredibly thankful for the movie director, Mira Nair who is striving to show the real people of Uganda.

The Observer also published an article that featured David Oyelowo, who is playing Robert Katende and he speaks a little bit about the importance of this movie and telling the story if we ever want things to change.  Read the article here!

This summer has been a busy one already and we really have just begun!  Can’t wait to see what else is to come!

Chess is Moving…

Here at Queen of Katwe we typically discuss everything going on with Robert and Phiona in their immediate life and area, where they practice and coach in Kampala, Uganda.  But today, we want to share a little more about how their story has truly stretched across countries and even continents! When Robert started the chess program almost 10 years ago, it was to allow the opportunity for children who did not want to or could not participate in the soccer outreach.  He found that it then became much more than just a tool to engage children, but a way to teach them how to strategize and apply the thought process and planning aspect into your everyday life.  Learning to be aware of your surroundings, watching out behind you, beside you, in front of you, something that the children where they work have to do everyday.  So, Robert coached, he reached and ministered.  And now, Robert is not only coaching a group of children in Kampala, but now there is a Chess Academy being built in the new ministry center that is being constructed right outside of Kampala.  This will allow for much more room for teachings and also provide a space so that they can host their own tournaments.

Through Robert’s coaching and guidance there is now a chess program in Gulu, Uganda, Nairobi, Kenya and the newest location, Nuevo Cuscatlán, El Salvador.  These programs are still learning and growing, but aren’t we all?  We look forward to having the opportunity to now show and introduce you to a few other amazing players across the world!

In Gulu, Uganda which is a few hours away from Kampala and another ministry site with Sports Outreach, they have also started using the game of chess to start ministering and teaching the children in the area.  It was remarkable to watch as the new boards were handed out and these boys who had been playing soccer in the field came running over when they spotted the new boards.  They instantly started setting up the pieces and starting to play.  It is amazing to watch these boys sit and concentrate and be quiet and respectful to wait until one game is over before they switch so that everyone is allowed a turn.  These photos include some of the children in the area along with the teachers that take the time afterschool and on the weekends to teach the children the game of chess.


In Nairobi, Kenya teacher Erick Oyugi saw the need for a chess program there.  With his leading it out starting at the beginning of this year, they now have a number of students who are interested and it is growing every week!!

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Now lets head to Latin America, in Nuevo Cuscatlán, El Salvador.  This is the newest chess program having just started last month!  But, they are already hard at it and everyone is wanting to learn more and be a part of the program.


Don’t worry, we wouldn’t leave you without an update from Kampala too!

First, the filming has officially begun on the movie, Queen of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda.  Here a few photos that Robert was able to catch between normal chess classes, his everyday duties with Sports Outreach and being available for the movie crew to help them with anything they may need.  We hope you enjoy these photos of a look into the movie life in Katwe!

Robert Katende breaking a coconut in celebration of the start of filming

Robert Katende breaking a coconut in celebration of the start of filming
Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/maishafilmlab

Lupita N'yongo meeting Harriet, Phiona's mother whom she will be playing.

Lupita N’yongo meeting Harriet, Phiona’s mother whom she will be playing.

Robert Katende tutoring David Oyelowo who will be playing Robert in the movie.

Robert Katende tutoring David Oyelowo who will be playing Robert in the movie.

We are so thankful to Mira Nair, Lupita N’yongo, David Oyelowo and all of the Disney crew who have been in Kampala for a few weeks now.  They have been so kind to all of the native Ugandans and accepting and excited to learn of the culture.

On the chess side of things, we just received word from Coach Robert yesterday that three of the SOM Chess Academy players Glorai, Phiona and Joan are now representing Uganda in the ladies category for the Zone 4.2 Chess Competition. The countries competing are Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi among others.  After this event, they shall then connect to the national schools chess competitions that shall have started a day earlier.For the schools even, SOM Chess Academy is to register three teams from Gulu, two teams from Jinja and three teams from Kampala!







Make sure you sign up for email updates if you haven’t yet so that you don’t miss out on the movie updates as they come in!

We thought 2014 was going to be busy…

2014 was a whirlwind and filled with so many exciting opportunities but we are even more excited about what is already happening and 2015 and everything to come!  So, without further delay…

First things first,

The ladies category was won by 13 year old Gloria Nansubuga. This is her first major victory at the highest level. She finished with 7 points out of a possible 8 and walked off with a cash prize of 700,000 and a trophy. On her way to victory, she beat WFM Ivy Amoko, Robina Namwanje, Esther Nakitende, Jacinta Nantume, Joan Nakimuli, Rhoda Namuswe and Olympian Goretti Angolikin. She only lost to WCM Phiona Mutesi.  In second position was Ivy Amoko and Phiona Mutesi finished in third position having made two draws and losing to Ivy Amoko in the second last round


The new Chess Academy and Mentoring Center

Construction continues at the Kampala Ministry Center and last month some children from Katwe (Slum Project in Kampala, Uganda) got a sneak peak at the new facility, including the upcoming Chess Academy and Mentoring Center.  While there, time was taken to pray for the new Center, where several of its buildings will become operational in 2015.

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Kawuma Chess Championship 2015

Stella and Phiona finish in first position in the women’s category!!
They both finish with 6.5 points out of possible 7. Using the system tie break depending on the positions of the opponents you played; Stella is better on tie break. Gloria, Rhoda, Carol, Joan and Vanessa all from SOM Chess academy follow in line.


Queen of Katwe, the movie

AND have you heard the news about The Queen of Katwe MOVIE??  That’s right it looks like production is starting and this could really happen!  The director, Mira Nair has been hard at work in Uganda trying to pull things together, remember she also directed that great movie showing Robert’s life, “A Fork, A Spoon and A Knight.”  What we know so far is that David Oyelowo will be playing Robert Katende, Lupita Nyong’o will be Harriet Mutesi, Phiona’s mom and who will be playing Phiona is still a mystery to us!  But we will be sure to share once we hear!

WOW, it’s only February and this year has already been full of exciting and surprising events!  Can’t wait to see what Spring brings!

A Fork, A Spoon & A Knight

A film by Mira Nair depicting the life of Robert Katende

The life of Robert Katende, the founder and director of the Sports Outreach Chess Academy, has now been depicted in a short documentary. The film entitled “A Fork, A Spoon, and A Knight,” was released in mid December to help commemorate the anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela. Director, Mira Nair believes the documentary will inspire young people everywhere as it brings to life a famous quote by Mandela, “Difficulties break some men, but make others.” See how Robert overcomes many challenges to complete school, become a teacher, a husband, father and member of Sports Outreach staff, while turning  the Katwe slum of Kampala into a world famous chess sanctuary and place of healing for abandoned children. Robert’s courage, fortitude and faith illustrates Mandela’s quote beautifully.

 The film also features a song written by Ugandan recording artist Edwin Ruyonga about Robert, “Ekitakumenya.

Please take a moment to be inspired and challenged as you enjoy A Fork, A Spoon and A Knight, the story of your friend and Sports Outreach staff member Robert Katende.

Mira Nair is also directing the Walt Disney movie project “The Queen of Katwe,” starring Lupita Nyongo The film is based on the book of the same name, by Tim Crothers and tells the complete story of Robert as well as that of one of his students Phiona Mutesi.


World Youth Chess Championship : Gloria and Tendo

The World Youth Chess Championship which began on 20 September runs till 30 September 2014.   The first time a Ugandan participated in the World Youth Chess Championship was when reigning National Junior Champion, Benjamin Mukumbya took part in last year’s event held in Al Ain, UAE and earned himself a first rating after a solid display in the Under 18 category. Uganda’s upcoming teenager, Gloria Nansubuga made the country proud beating a 1613 rated Irina Andriatsiferana of Madagacar in the second round of the ongoing World Youth Chess Championship played on Sunday 21 September 2014 in Durban, South Africa.  Nansubuga had earlier lost to Romania’s Coman Emilia Florentina rated 1814 in the first round played yesterday. She is on zero rating and participating in the Under 14 age category.   Gloria secured her second win after beating South Africa’s Gardiner Nina rated 1663 in the third round played at the International Convention Center in Durban yesterday evening!!  Nansubuga now has 2 points out of 3  in The Under 14 Girls category. She is now up against  much tougher opposition in Australia’s Chiara Polterauer rated 1903 in the third fouth round to be played today.

Another Ugandan based in the USA, Tendo Lumala(The same young man who Phiona had the opportunity to meet while in Seattle, WA this past spring!!) , is also participating in the Under 10 boys category. He lost the first two games, but has secured his first win in the same round. He beat Malawi’s Charles Gondwe Kimwa in the Under 10 boys category.

GLoria with the Flag

Gloria has been given the National Flag by the president of Uganda Chess Federation Mr. Vianney Luggya (left) and her school Flag by her school administrator Mr. Isaac Kahinda (Center) during a press conference before she left for competition!


The Energizer Bunnies

Robert and Phiona are in Norway!!  Robert and Phiona just never stop going, if they aren’t playing chess here its there or they are on a plane across the world and back.  Who can keep track these days!  So the latest is they are at the Olympiad and are adjusting to the 23 hours of daylight and the cooler temperature while she is also feeling out her competition!  She has already played three games which resulted in the first game a loss and the second two wins! She and Robert are staying focused along with the rest of her team and are taking all the opportunities they can to practice but still have plenty of rest and getting to meet fellow players and make new friends!

Robert and Phiona at the Olympiad  Phiona playing her 3rd game

They will be in Norway for one more week before they head back to Uganda for only a month and half and then they will be BACK in the US to share at a conference hosted by ONE and Google.  It doesn’t stop there either with their constant schedule; just since they have been in Norway, The Christian Broadcasting Network aired a 12 minute feature on the two of them, talking about Phiona’s story and the work Robert has been doing through Chess.  They were interviewed this past Spring while Robert and Phiona were in the States touring and since CBN has worked very hard compiling other footage and information to make a wonderful piece.  You may watch the entire feature here.

It really is truly amazing how far their story reaches whether they are in Uganda, the US, Norway or any other country or continent.  We can’t wait to share how Phiona finished out at the Olympiad, but in the mean time please follow her on Facebook or Twitter for updates!

Building Has Begun!

We are so excited to announce that ground has been broken for the new Chess Academy and Mentoring Center in Kampala.  Along with the Chess Academy, construction has also begun on two children’s homes, the welcome center and the basketball court.  This is a huge step towards being able to expand this ministry and have a safer place for children to come and learn.  We appreciate the continued prayers and support and will continue to keep you updated!

Please visit our official Kampala Ministry page for more information.

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