System transparency will draw sponsors to Rs 65-cr plan: AICF prez Narang

D Gukesh and Nitin Narang
D Gukesh and Nitin Narang (PC: D Gukesh and Nitin Narang/X)

Indian chess remains a newsmaker. Close on the heels of D Gukesh’s historic triumph at the Candidates tournament, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) has announced an elaborate ‘action plan’. It has a budget of Rs 65 crore for three years for various development schemes and projects.

Volume of money is the first highlight of this ambitious plan. It covers a range of things including substantial annual contracts for the top 10 men’s and women’s players, a national ranking system, stipends for the top three boys and girls in seven junior categories, grants for 32 state associations, a high-level annual international tournament and programmes for coaches and arbiters.

Nitin Narang, the youngest AICF president ever, is at the forefront of this initiative. He is confident of raising funds through corporate sponsorship. “We have organised Rs 25 crore for five years. Talks are in advanced stages to finalise other deals worth almost the same amount. The idea is to create a system that will sustain itself when our tenure is over after three years,” Narang told RevSportz.

Elected unanimously to the top post in March, the 36-year-old Narang is aware of the importance of a monitoring system. “We have to have transparency and accountability in the flow and utilisation of funds. Other than manpower, the monitoring will involve a lot of technology. If corporate bodies are convinced this system doesn’t have loopholes, they will be encouraged to support us.”

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Youngest World Championship challenger.
Youngest World Championship challenger. (Source: X)

Annual contracts of Rs 25 lakh each for the top five in the men’s and women’s sections and Rs 12.5 lakh each for those from sixth to 10th, Rs 40 lakh for each of the state units over a period of three years and yearly stipends ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 for those finishing in the top three in the junior competitions are some of the plans. The federation also wants more tournaments.

First on the to-do list is introducing the AICF’s own ranking system. At the moment, players are ranked according to their FIDE rating points. One objective of this is to expand the pool of registered players. The federation is looking at 10 lakh registrations. At Rs 200 per year per player, this will come to Rs 20 crore, although Narang said the budget is not based on this as a revenue source.

“We have set 90 days for the completion of the registration process. Once that prototype is in place, we will come to the deadlines for other plans. Annual rewards, grants for state associations, scholarships and academies will begin soon. We intend to increase the annual tournaments from 400 to about 2,000. A National Chess Arena is part of our long-term plans,” informed Narang.

There are also thoughts of a league in the IPL mould and a corporate league using the AICF ratings, although these are still at a discussion and stock-taking phase. The president said work is ongoing to create a foundation for these projects.

Asked if all this is overambitious, the entrepreneur and investor by profession representing Haryana in the AICF, came up with an emphatic reply. “In modern day Bharat, it’s impossible to miss the improvement in the area of sports. A lot of initiatives have been taken. There is a lot of excitement. Those who feel our plan is impractical don’t know how to harness this potential,” concluded Narang.

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