Saturday, January 28


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 A 15-year-old girl from Bengal could participate in the Asian Youth Chess Championships in Thailand last year only after her mother mortgaged her gold ornaments.

Bristy Mukherjee is gearing up for the next edition of the tournament, to be held in Sri Lanka from April 1 to 10, but this time she does not have worries about finances to distract her.

An NGO named SiiRF — the name stands for Some Immensely Inspired Roger (Federer) Fans — is funding her training and sponsoring her logistics when she is travelling outside the state to take part in tournaments.

“I have told her (Bristy) not to worry about the result and give 100 per cent in every match,” said Sunita Sigtia, the founder of the NGO. “She is much more confident now.” Bristy had won silver in under-14 girls’ category in last year’s championship, having missed gold by half a point. This year, the Class IX student from East Burdwan’s Memari will participate in the under-16 category.

In June 2018, she had won silver in the Commonwealth Chess in Delhi. “It would not have been possible without the NGO’s help,” said the teenager’s father, Debasish Mukherjee.

“I am practising for eight to 10 hours every day in the run up to the championship,” said Bristy, who hones her skills attending online classes of Bangladeshi grandmaster Ziaur Rahman.

The teenager’s family sustain themselves with the money they earn by renting out a portion of their house in Memari. Debasish used to run a grocery but had to shut it down because accompanying Bristy to tournaments left him with little time for business.

The rent still sustains the family but thanks to SiiRF’s help, Bristy’s prize money no longer has to be kept aside to fund her travel. As for the upcoming tournament in Sri Lanka’s Kalutara, the central government will sponsor her travel.

Earlier, Bristy would come to Calcutta four days a week to attend a training camp at Alekhine Club in Minto Park.

That involved spending six hours daily travelling on local trains and packed buses.

If she had missed the 8.45pm train from Howrah, Bristy had to wait for another 90 minutes to catch the next one and reach home past midnight.

The NGO that is sponsoring the Bristy is also supporting a budding tennis player. Amit Rawat, son of a cobbler, learnt to play tennis while working as a ball boy at Calcutta International Club.

Sigtia had earlier told Metro that her love for Federer’s tennis and his philanthropy had led to the birth of the charity, which works for athletes from poor families. She met the tennis star in Dubai earlier this month and told him about her foundation. “He urged me to carry on,” she said.

Source: Telegraph India

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