Robert KatendeSOM Chess Academy was started in 2004. It is one of the entities of The Robert Katende Initiative (

Robert Katende had only one chess board and with it; he introduced Chess in the Slums of Katwe. By teaching children how to play, Robert used the platform to teach life principles and nurture character; they call themselves The Pioneers. The SOM Chess Academy currently has centers in five different Slums in Kampala, seven villages in Gulu and one community in Jinja. it is through Chess as a platform that we empower and prepare participants for formal education by enrolling and supporting those who would otherwise have no chance to go to school. Through collaboration with other partners and friends, we also enroll youths for vocational training in order to enable them be self-reliant. At the SOM Chess Academy we are aware that not everyone enrolled to the academy centers will turn out to be great Chess player but we are sure everyone can be a great individual empowered and prepared to achieve their full potential thus leading a very successful life. So we focus on each participant as an individual because we are Life Coaches, we support and empower them to work and attain their life goals. The 16 years we have been in this service, we have been able to restore hope, disciple and nurture good character, educate and develop leaders on top of producing National and International chess players. Som Academy doesn’t charge even a single penny! All this creates a welcoming atmosphere to the participants making it possible for the less privileged to have an opportunity to hope and achieve.  The Pioneers who have started with the program have been empowered academically through the support of our partners and they are now great leaders managing the different Som Chess Academy Centers in Uganda alongside their academic professions.

This wonderful Vision and impacting program led led children from the Streets and Slums to National and International Chess events which inspired the ESPN article in 2010

Article as seen on CHESSSITE.COM 

ESPN Magazine Article

and Queen of Katwe book in 2012

Queen of Katwe book

That has been turned into a Motion Picture Movie by Disney in 2016.

Queen of Katwe Movie

How much of the Movie was true?

History vs Hollywood

Is Robert a Saint?

The Heart of a Missionary