Muscat: For the first time in the history of Oman, the national chess team will take part in the Chess Olympiad — a biennial tournament in which teams from all over the world compete against each other.
The Omani national team comprising of five players from will take part in the 15-day tournament starting from August 1 to 15 in Norway.
Speaking exclusively to Times Sport, Ismael Karim, the head coach of the national team said the Chess Olympiad is a major international platform for the Omani players to perform.
"This is going to be the biggest platform for these players who are new to this sport. We are looking forward for it with more excitement," Karim said.
Currently, 10 national players are undergoing a 15-day training camp in Salalah under the able guidance Karim.
"We have already finalised the final squad of five players from these 10 and we will be flying to Norway on July 29," he said.
The Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is the main sponsor of the national team along with the Ministry of Sports Affairs (MoSA).
It is worth noting that this is Oman's second international tournament after they received official recognition from the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in March this year.
MoSA formed the Oman Chess Committee (OCC) in February with Laila Al Naggar as its chief.
Oman made its debut in international stage by taking part in the Asian Chess Championship that was held in Iran in June where they faced stiff challenges from India and China.
"That was the first platform for our players and they faced some tough fight from India and China. But it was a good exposure and a good training for them," Karim said.
Around 130 countries are expected to take part in the Chess Olympiad and according to Karim, Oman will look to get an international exposure than worry about the performance.
"We are comparatively new to this sport when it comes to international recognition and we need to first accept that fact. We know we will face tough challenges from other teams but we want to get more exposure by taking part in these big tournaments.
"But I am confident that our players can really perform well in this championship," said Karim, an International Master who also runs the International Chess Academy in Oman.
Speaking about the Chess Olympiad, Karim said teams like Russia and India are expected to perform well. "These countries have a strong base in this sport and they will definitely do well compared to other teams. Oman is in the growing stage of this sport and we will have to wait for long till we reach
that stage where can be considered the best.
"The talent is there and we have some really good players who can become great in years to come. Its all about patience and now that we have got official status from FIDE and we can take part in these tournaments, I am sure we can develop quality players in the coming years," Karim added.
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