PAOK FC Academy from Thessaloniki, Greece, has started a new activity for their junior players – chess lessons.
The innovative idea was prompted by Ivan Savvidis, owner of PAOK, sponsor of the Thessaloniki FIDE Grand Prix and Greek Chess Federation.
Savvidis is of the opinion that chess is not only a game, but also a mental sport with strong educational influence. A footballer, a top athlete must have a wider sports education that extends beyond the moves on the grass pitch. PAOK youth will now practice moves on the black and white board.
The club has secured the space, found a chess teacher, set the boards, and lessons have started on 1st November.
The fans website highlights that chess “promotes the cultivation of moral values, develops a rational thinking, creative imagination and improves mnemonic skills.”
Further, chess “helps children to develop personality traits, like patience, persistence, concentration, self-awareness, recognition, management of defeat, respect for the opponent. We assume that these virtues are exactly what every coach wants to instill in his athletes.”
“Chess requires constant and absolute concentration. A small mistake by a momentary lapse of attention can lead to defeat. Through chess children learn to take their personal responsibilities. Unlike other team sports where the responsibility for the bad outcome can be attributed to another factor, in chess, where the luck factor almost doesn’t exist, the ultimate responsibility for the failure lies solely with the chess player.”
The teacher also wanted to point that chess develops the sense of ‘fair play’ and respect for the opponent, exemplified by the handshake before and after the game.
Photos by PAOK FC and Goran Urosevic