Played on a standard chessboard of 64 chequered squares, draughts is growing from a domestic to a national competitive game.
Although a long-standing past time for many, the game of ‘dame’, as it is popularly known in Ghana, was recently admitted as a sport by the National Sports Authority.
It is a dominant source of entertainment for all ages, but predominantly middle-aged men in most areas of Kumasi.
But the game of draughts has been formalized by a few including Amakom, Asafo, Manhyia, Atonsu, Abuakwa, Kwadaso, Deduako and Suame.
One of the major hubs of draughts is Amakom, where the regional headquarters of the Draughts Association is situated.
Despite being rendered a meek sport, many from all walks of life make time to play draughts. They have different reasons for their preference for the game.
“It is one game that to me helps with brain development because everything done involves the use of the brains. It will be difficult for anyone to play if your mathematics is weak.
Many have described it as a lazy sport, but that is “palpable falsehood,” members stated.
Abu Naba, who has benefited from playing draughts, shares how it changed his life.
“I travelled to Ethiopia because of draughts for the first time and I won bronze in the competition. Draughts is a game that helps people to release tension,” he said.
The Ghana Draughts Association is one of the silent Unions in the country, but believe that the game of draughts holds notable prospects for players.
“Ghana Draughts Association since 2018 has been recognized as one of the sporting disciplines in the country. We have moved the draughts outside the nation as an association. In 2008 we played the games in Malawi and had an opportunity to play in California, USA in 2019 but our trip was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,” said the Ashanti Regional Secretary, Edmund Owusu.
Aside entertainment, the game enhances the thinking capacity of players in quick decision making.
Vice Chair of the Ashanti Draughts Association, Atta Kwasi, spells out several challenges to overcome for the game to be more attractive.
“Who is helping to promote and sponsor the game of draughts? Is it solely the government or other corporate bodies? Those who want to come on board are reluctant because they don’t see any benefits from sponsoring us. We had greater expectations but we have held on to plans due to the coronavirus,” said.
The game that comes with slurs, playfully cast on opponents, has seen little recognition both locally and internationally.
Organiser, Kwabena Ampadu, popularly known as “Emu Y3’’ believes the game can be popularized nationally.
“There are many draughts clubs in Ashanti and Greater Accra regions with many players. We have grown the game to a level that we also trade players just like in other sports like football and basketball where transfer fees are included.”
Chairman of the Ashanti Region Draughts Association, Emmanuel Osei Boateng calls for conscious efforts from all stakeholders to help push the sport to the next level.
“We plead to the media and other institutions to support the sport. There are lots of dignitaries who love the game and play in their homes but not the draught centres. We advocate all of them to come out, play and support us in all we do”
It is a logical game that is easy to teach, though it involves strategic reasoning.
Encouraging more people to play this sport can help develop life skills and more importantly offers another opportunity to win a medal at the Olympics.
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