Here at Queen of Katwe we typically discuss everything going on with Robert and Phiona in their immediate life and area, where they practice and coach in Kampala, Uganda.  But today, we want to share a little more about how their story has truly stretched across countries and even continents! When Robert started the chess program almost 10 years ago, it was to allow the opportunity for children who did not want to or could not participate in the soccer outreach.  He found that it then became much more than just a tool to engage children, but a way to teach them how to strategize and apply the thought process and planning aspect into your everyday life.  Learning to be aware of your surroundings, watching out behind you, beside you, in front of you, something that the children where they work have to do everyday.  So, Robert coached, he reached and ministered.  And now, Robert is not only coaching a group of children in Kampala, but now there is a Chess Academy being built in the new ministry center that is being constructed right outside of Kampala.  This will allow for much more room for teachings and also provide a space so that they can host their own tournaments.

Through Robert’s coaching and guidance there is now a chess program in Gulu, Uganda, Nairobi, Kenya and the newest location, Nuevo Cuscatlán, El Salvador.  These programs are still learning and growing, but aren’t we all?  We look forward to having the opportunity to now show and introduce you to a few other amazing players across the world!

In Gulu, Uganda which is a few hours away from Kampala and another ministry site with Sports Outreach, they have also started using the game of chess to start ministering and teaching the children in the area.  It was remarkable to watch as the new boards were handed out and these boys who had been playing soccer in the field came running over when they spotted the new boards.  They instantly started setting up the pieces and starting to play.  It is amazing to watch these boys sit and concentrate and be quiet and respectful to wait until one game is over before they switch so that everyone is allowed a turn.  These photos include some of the children in the area along with the teachers that take the time afterschool and on the weekends to teach the children the game of chess.

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In Nairobi, Kenya teacher Erick Oyugi saw the need for a chess program there.  With his leading it out starting at the beginning of this year, they now have a number of students who are interested and it is growing every week!!


Now lets head to Latin America, in Nuevo Cuscatlán, El Salvador.  This is the newest chess program having just started last month!  But, they are already hard at it and everyone is wanting to learn more and be a part of the program.



Don’t worry, we wouldn’t leave you without an update from Kampala too!

First, the filming has officially begun on the movie, Queen of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda.  Here a few photos that Robert was able to catch between normal chess classes, his everyday duties with Sports Outreach and being available for the movie crew to help them with anything they may need.  We hope you enjoy these photos of a look into the movie life in Katwe!


Robert Katende breaking a coconut in celebration of the start of filming
Photo courtesy of


Lupita N’yongo meeting Harriet, Phiona’s mother whom she will be playing.


Robert Katende tutoring David Oyelowo who will be playing Robert in the movie.

We are so thankful to Mira Nair, Lupita N’yongo, David Oyelowo and all of the Disney crew who have been in Kampala for a few weeks now.  They have been so kind to all of the native Ugandans and accepting and excited to learn of the culture.

On the chess side of things, we just received word from Coach Robert yesterday that three of the SOM Chess Academy players Glorai, Phiona and Joan are now representing Uganda in the ladies category for the Zone 4.2 Chess Competition. The countries competing are Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi among others.  After this event, they shall then connect to the national schools chess competitions that shall have started a day earlier.For the schools even, SOM Chess Academy is to register three teams from Gulu, two teams from Jinja and three teams from Kampala!





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