Kevin Explains: WHY DO I SUPPORT AND HELP THE “WE R EUROPE” TEAM?
We publish a new article written by a gentleman Mr.Kevin O’Connell. Kevin is a FM, International Arbiter and FIDE Senior Trainer. All his life is dedicated to chess. Kevin was a very well know politician as well. Although he is retired from politics, his opinion for the furthcoming ECU Elections are very interesting to read. He contacted us 3 months ago for our campaign and helping us as a volunteer since this time. We publish the article of Kevin! Thank you Kevin for your trust!
Read and enjoy it.
Kevin O’Connell explains: ‘WHY DO I SUPPORT AND HELP THE “WE R EUROPE” TEAM?’
My involvement with the team of Ali Nihat Yazici is linked with the long and winding history of the European Chess Union.
Dr Wilfried Dorazil of Austria was, I believe, the first to try and set up a pan-European organization, the chess equivalent of UEFA, and I vaguely recall representing Ireland at various meetings in the late 1970s. However, the attempts to create the ECU came at a time of great tensions within the chess world and it was widely seen as an attempt to form an alternative to FIDE for Western chess federations (some even went so far as to propose the inclusion of the USA and Canada!).
In Thessaloniki 1988, a working bridgehead between the fledgling ECU (refounded in Graz in 1985) and FIDE was achieved. Misrust was prevalent, but, due to my efforts and good personal relationships, then Deputy President Roman Toran came on-side, and Poland became the inaugural “Eastern Bloc” member.
With relations between FIDE and the ECU normalized in 1996, and the Eastern European countries all in the fold, I anticipated great things, and much was achieved, especially a host of new European Championships, but they were the only pan-European initiatives. There was no progress with pan-European sponsorship or a pan-European approach to Chess in Schools and, although in 2000 the ECU became financially and administratively autonomous, with 54 member federations, it remained weak and nothing was done for the smaller federations. I was, frankly, disappointed.
Three months ago, Geoffrey Borg visited me in France, and then came to Dublin to meet the majority of ICU Executive members, both present and those expected to take up their posts after our own elections in September. I was excited by the WeREurope team’s plans (especially those pan-European aspects that had been lacking), the boundless energy of Ali and Geoffrey, and, above all, their track record of success. I also appreciated the fact that the team covered the whole of Europe; North-South, East-West, federations both large and small, and presented concrete proposals for ending the effective exclusion of small federations from many European events.
The ICU Executive was convinced and it seemed to me more-or-less a certainty that we would cast our vote for Ali’s team in the ECU election. I was personally so enthused by the prospects, above all for junior chess development, with a coordinated Chess in Schools programme, one which could be made to work in Ireland as well as elsewhere in Europe, that I offered my services to help the cause. All this despite personal friendships with members of the competing teams, because I could see the way forward to a better future for the ECU and for chess in Europe. My offer was accepted and I have been editing and ‘Anglicizing’ the text of press releases and of the campaign web site. I very much hope to be able also to assist the future work of developing the plans for Chess in Schools programmes and a European Chess Academy.
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