Inspiration: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.
Growing up finding that one person who pushes you is at times frustrating, but in the end those few people will be the ones you remember. Robert Katende is not only that to Phiona Mutesi, but now they are both inspirations to the the world. I still get inspired today. I sat in the room with both of these amazing people and heard their story from their own mouths. What a story it is. I hope you find inspiration from their interview and that you go and see this beautiful film that is out in theaters today!
Q: What life lessons do you think children and adults can learn from chess?
RK: There are several, actually, just generally in life and there are many values that we meet on a daily basis in our lives; In a child’s life you can involve them well to the platform of chess. You can tackle abstractive thinking, problem solving, decision making, weighing options, and even responsibility because chess kind of mentors you in finding value and where you have to get comfortable with your decisions, and don’t simply make moves.
You should have a plan, you should have an objective, an activity objective. It gives you an opportunity to where you can have ideas and try to figure out how to bring them to reality. So you must get input in the integration of these values and principles from the game into your lifestyle.
Q: Is the movie as true to life as it could be?
PM: Well, I liked it when I saw it. I couldn’t think that I was watching myself. But it was my first time in the big theater. I was on the Red Carpet; I think it was just my first time. I’ve never been in such a situation. But I’m like, come into that, I’ve heard, like, I feel like I shouldn’t be there, like, shouldn’t it be someone else.
Q: Can you talk about mentorship and how that played a role in your life?
RK: Yeah, surely it is something remarkable. I strongly believe maybe my general team have really done it. I have learned on being a father. Before I got a family, I was more in a training, so they really taught me so much about tolerance, patience and embracing each one’s ability. Because when it comes to the programs, it’s not so much entailed on chess but it’s more of focusing on an individual. And if the child is different- they have different abilities; different perspectives of life, and now you find yourself in this dilemma where you have to look at each child as an individual. And to me, it’s more of a community investment. You really choose to be in there and see how this important to them.
And then I did find where is the strength of this one like there is- they are now, they are the ones leading most of the programs because they have turned out to be good leaders. But I remember ten years back, the good example was Richard. So this is the young boy who volunteered to keep our chess support current from the beginning. And then, he was keeping this chess support, and then one time, almost like six months, he came on and said, “Coach, I think we need to find somewhere else to keep our board.”
Why? And then he said, “No, when my uncle comes back home, he comes back drunk, and he fights with auntie, and so they will break our board.” Now, this really hit me and I almost shed tears because for him, it was for the board, and me, I was moved to, what kind of trauma does this child go through at home? So it takes you beyond what you think, and that sometimes you, even you go- when it comes to mentorship, I’ve many times find myself going beyond the actual child, and going even to the people behind the child.
Because some of the issues are actually, imagine, from the guardian, or the uncle, or the auntie, they have that role that they play. Sometimes once you see this child going through, they’re just symptoms, and they have a cause behind it. And sometimes you cannot keep on addressing the symptoms and that forces you to go beyond, and then reach out to even the guardians. Those who don’t have them, I got an opportunity to get to adopt them so that I am with them now.
You can find them in my home in the hotel, and there are about eight kids over there. We sometimes even mentor them who know how to play chess. So it’s now more like a big family. But mentorship is not something really you can just say it’s on and then off. It’s a an ongoing process. And it’s not like, I will come and teach you, and then go away, but you allow them to learn your weaknesses, to learn how you face difficulties, how you respond to them.
It’s not a short case kind of situation, but you’re more like living with them on a daily basis, and they learn the positive way how to react to grief; how to respond to calamites if they occur. So you are their only model. They’re there to pick every lesson from you- so they become part of you. You open your home; sometimes I tell people that you have to allow them and give them–.
They are there; they are part of you; they give you a call; they come; they say, “coach, we need to come.” So it is an ongoing selfless living, you know, but for the purpose of, trying to see how best how you can support.
Q: Can you tell us where you started with the pioneers and where you are now with your chess academy?
RK: Yeah, I started, in 2002 and, it really started stabilizing in 2004. There were six, the kids, I have six and I’ve been dealing with them for over now twelve years. The way I keep some of them, in the age, like Phiona, had, like, one year and a half. She was nine, and now she’s twenty. So they have now become young adults.
And when I took them they had not even schooling. He’s now qualified as a physics and math teacher. He’s now, he’s just graduating, June, commencing. Benjamin, Phiona, he’s just completing high school to go to university next year. So it’s really a remarkable journey, for me to see them. And, besides they have professional kind of goals, they are naturally becoming leaders.
And they reach out to the program that, like Phiona, it’s not just like coincidence, but it’s like a strategy on starting to give them some sense of responsibility, and then also enabling them to realize that they have something they can really, that there is something that they can offer at even their lower level. So they are naturally in this that they should grow. So this, right now, I sit, and we instruct and we plan together with the kids who were the kids then- now they are adults, and we just sit and plan, and the consequence, we can do this, and so I will get on this, and then they bring their report.
I’m so grateful because I kind of see myself like I have not planned. Like, even right now, we are weighing all this with over eight kids packed in.
Q: Phiona, you’re definitely and inspiration. What advice would you give to a young girl that’s scared of stepping out?
PM: Well, what I know, it’s not, like, as well problems- I’ll say, most people when they’re like, they’re having problems, but it just takes hope. Have hope in everything you’re doing, and just be hard working, and just approve about yourself; you feel like, no, I don’t wanna be like this. Have a dream, I want to be this in my life. So that, really, right, you’re like, I don’t want to be like this.
Don’t forget to catch Queen Of Katwe in theaters September 30 2016!
***Disclosure: I attended the #QueenOfKatwe + #ABCTVEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***