James Kang'aru: Kenya's Chessmaster Conquering With Many Firsts

  • Kenyan Chess Sportsman James Kang'aru Mwangu with his award at the International Youth Week
    Kenyan Chess Sportsman James Kang'aru Mwangu at the International Youth Week on August 13, 2020.
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    James Kang'aru
  • Kenyan Chess champion James Kang'aru Mwangi was among the young people awarded in the Top 35 – Under 35 Awards 2020 where he merged the overall youth of the year in the sports category.

    Kang'aru, 27, is the youngest national coach to have been appointed to lead any Kenyan team having been selected to head the Kenyan junior chess team at the age of 24 back in 2017.

    Skilled in his craft, the Economics graduate has bagged the title of the best coach of the year in chess for a record four times over the past five years - that is 2014 to 2019.

    "I am honoured and humbled to have won youth of year in sports considering I was against other personalities in contact sports which goes to show that board games should be held to a level as other games," he told Kenyans.co.ke.

    James Kang'aru with Youth Agenda CEO Mr Kelvin Keya during the International Youth Week.
    James Kang'aru with Youth Agenda CEO Mr Kelvin Keya during the International Youth Week.
    James Kang'aru

    Kang’aru has been accredited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) as a FIDE instructor, making him an international coach.

    The young coach has also been accredited and licensed as International Arbiter becoming the first Kenyan youth to ever get such a title. He has worked with Africa Chess Confederation, again becoming the first Kenyan to be Chief Arbiter in continental events in 2019.

    In 2018, he was appointed Deputy Chief Arbiter in the Africa Youth Chess Championships and become the first Kenyan to be selected for such an African appointment.

    Kang'aru is Africa’s youngest FIDE Instructor and International Arbiter.

    "Chess is a great sport as it can be played by anyone. For children, it helps them to think broadly and increases focus and concentration. It also helps them make friends through tournaments," he says.

    In addition to being a coach, Kang'aru runs the Epitome School of Chess where he aims to empower the young people through sports.

    James Kang'aru overseeing a chess game at Light House Mombasa on November 2019.
    James Kang'aru (centre) as the Chief Arbiter with James Kabui (left) and Timothy Mwabu (Timothy Wambu) at the Top Juniors Chess Tournament in November 2019.
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    James Kang'aru

    The academy trains over 5,000 pupils in Nairobi and Thika regions with the programme involving 10 schools so far.

    He has worked with various sports affiliated bodies including Sports Outreach Program in Kenya, Chess Kenya, Minichess Kenya and the Lighthouse Chess Club, Mombasa.