By John Ikani
When Deborah Quickpen signed up to participate at the recent African Youth Chess Championship in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, little did she know that she was preparing to finally make the world her oyster.
Game after game, Quickpen set her sights on clinching the ultimate prize in the Under-10 category as she faced opponents who would later admit that they have never met a more formidable match like the 9-year-old.
With nine out of 10 games won in the competition, there wasn’t any other competitor in the category with wins like Quickpen’s, a development which saw her crowned champion.
Weeks after her heroic feat, Quickpen would fully understand that winning the championship meant a lot to not just her friends and family but the good people of Bayelsa as the state’s government held a reception to honour her.
Sitting inside the Executive Council Chambers of Bayelsa Government House in Yenagoa, Quickpen held her head high as the State Governor, Douye Diri reeled out a litany of her heroic feats which include winning three gold medals when she represented Bayelsa at the just concluded 6th National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State.
“I therefore appoint you an Ambassador of Bayelsa State youths. Your appointment is in academics. I hereby announce that your academics will be followed up with the game you already know how to play. You have to attend a school whether in Nigeria or overseas where you can combine both academics and sports, particularly chess,” said Governor Diri.
“For making personal sacrifices alongside your parents and coaches, I also announce a cash gift of four million Naira.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank your parents for training you up well. Every giant begins from the home. Today, you are the giant in your age bracket in Africa.” he added.
The Governor went on to urge parents to tread the paths of Mr and Mrs Quickpen by training their children to become assets to society, the state and the country.
It is worthwhile to note that Quickpen alongside two other young Bayelsans – Treasure Ebiakpo and Shine Ekpore – represented Nigeria in three different categories at the championship and all made the state proud.
However, Quickpen stands out as the youngest Nigerian and African to win the prestigious chess championship.
Indeed, the world has become Quickpen’s oyster and there is no limit to what she can achieve in the years to come.
She is Deborah Quickpen. Remember her name!