Chess player, Miracle May, is on a mission to preserve Indigenous Games in South Africa as she works her way to becoming an indigenous archaeologist.
The 24-year-old who hails from Brits in the North West, is a Master’s student studying Indigenous Knowledge Systems at the North West University Mafikeng Campus.
May’s career goals are to win gold in her sporting code as she reveals drawing inspiration from sporting greats Caster Semenya and Natalie du Toit, who she says have taught her the art of perseverance.
Her advice to young, aspiring sport stars is to play the game for fun and enjoy every moment as she believes the competitive edge will come naturally.
Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, May reveals how she got involved in Chess and what media can do to amplify the coverage of women’s sport.
Miracle, thank you for chatting to us. Can you please tell us about yourself and where you are from?
My name is Miracle May, I am a 24-year-old master’s student studying Indigenous Knowledge Systems at the North West University Mafikeng Campus. I am from Brits, and I was born Potchefstroom.
Please tell us how you got involved in Chess.
Chess is a calming sport, it helped me de-stress from the challenges of academics and that was the main reason I joined the chess club. My aim was not to be competitive but for the sport to help me focus and relax.
How do you strike a balance between your studies and chess career?
Indigenous knowledge system is a multidisciplinary course which mainly focuses on preserving indigenous cultures and worldviews. My dream is to specialize in indigenous artifact preservation, conservation curation in museums and heritage sites. How I managed to juggle playing chess and my academics is by watching at least one game and practicing the game on my own every day. Every day I learn a new game and because it is one game per day I have the rest of the day to study.
It is liberating and it opens pathways to more women finding interest in playing the game. Movies like Queen of Gambit and Queen of Katwe have also contributed to more girls playing chess. Being a girl who has always played chess it has also made me appreciate the game a bit more. One thing chess has taught me is that anyone is capable of winning and gender does not really matter.
Who are some of the sportswomen you admire and why?
Caster Semenya and Natalie du Toit are my favourite sportswomen. They have taught me perseverance, to keep on trying and never letting your difficulties stand in the way of your success.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into sports?
Do it for fun, nothing else! Do it to escape from your daily struggles. Once you have fun, being competitive comes naturally and you enjoy playing the game.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?
Chess is practice, it requires continuous practice although it can get really frustrating the more you practice previous games the more predictable the games get.
What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
Twitch chess players are very helpful as they play and analyze the games, and previous tournaments and chess.com has been helpful to the chess club and we often play on the site and analyze games.
What else are you hoping to achieve in your career?
For my chess career, I want to win a gold medal in my lifetime. For my work career I want to be a curator and an indigenous archaeologist and help restore Africa’s treasures and mysteries.
What do you think of gsport and its impact on women’s sports?
It is amazing, it empowers women in different sport codes and motivates other women to join a sport of their interest.
Lastly, what do you think we as media can do to amplify women’s sports coverage?
Women in sport need more screen time. We know about storylines, sponsors, and rankings of male sport stars but little information is known about female sport stars. We need more articles about women, more female sports rankings and women’s leagues playing at prime times from time to time and more interviews on female sport stars.
Photo 1 Caption: Chess player, Miracle May, is on a mission to preserve Indigenous Games in South Africa as she works her way to becoming an indigenous archaeologist. Photo: Supplied