Abdul Karim (centre) with (from left) Xiang Qi master Kevin Tay; secretary general/ Xiang Qi master Chen Ling Wei; chairman of the Federation of Xiang Qi Sarawak, chairman of the Federation of Xiang Qi East Malaysia and organising chairman of Kuching Xiang Qi Association kapitan Datuk Lau Sie Lok; Business Event Sarawak (BES) chief operating officer Amelia Roziman; BES representative Donny Tan; and Xiang Qi public relation officer Voon Siew Lan.

KUCHING: Sarawak Youth and Sports Ministry will continue working with strategic partners to make the state one of the sports destinations in Malaysia.

In announcing that Sarawak won the bid to become the host for the next 17th World Xiang Qi Championship and Forum in 2021, its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state welcomed the staging of the world-class event here.

“This event has already marked its first legacy by putting Sarawak’s name and reputation high on the sporting league.

“The Xiang Qi game has been introduced as another competitive sport, which is categorised under the Board Games category.

“By endorsing this event in Sarawak which will be held next year in August, this could attract all the good athletes from around the world to converge on Kuching,” he said during a press conference in conjunction with the 17th World Xiang Qi Championship and Forum 2021, at the Baitulmakmur building here, yesterday.

Abdul Karim (centre) with (from left) Xiang Qi master Kevin Tay; secretary general/ Xiang Qi master Chen Ling Wei; chairman of the Federation of Xiang Qi Sarawak, chairman of the Federation of Xiang Qi East Malaysia and organising chairman of Kuching Xiang Qi Association kapitan Datuk Lau Sie Lok; Business Event Sarawak (BES) chief operating officer Amelia Roziman; BES representative Donny Tan; and Xiang Qi public relation officer Voon Siew Lan.

As such, Abdul Karim also said it might be necessary to organise Chinese chess games at school and division levels in an effort to introduce and generate interest among school children.

“From now, we need to prepare ourselves in becoming one of the leading destinations that attracts the best athletes and participants from the Asian region and possibly, from the rest of the world.

“Therefore, efforts to groom Sarawakian Xiang Qi talents for international competitions will enable us to discover new talents regardless of race and sporting background,” he explained, while exemplifying Sarawakian Xiang Qi athlete, Jee Xin Ru, the fourth best player of the Chinese board games across the world.

“And because of Jee Xin Ru, our fellow Sarawakian who’s ranked fourth in the world, Sarawak is currently standing high in the world of Xiang Qi and this will certainly inspire others to follow suit,” he added.

Realising the Chinese board game now had gained wide popularity not only in China but also in Western countries, Abdul Karim believed through localisation of the game, this could serve better engagement with the younger generation.

“We want to build the youth community through sports, as it is one. The sense of achievement through competition will help to develop a person’s character and leadership skills,” he noted.

Spearheaded by Kuching Xiang Qi (Siang-Chee) Association in collaboration with Business Events Sarawak, the 17th World Xiang Qi Championship and Forum 2021 will attract around 350 athletes from 35 countries all over the world.