A former gangster turned activist is teaching children life lessons through the game of chess.
Ocean View resident Vasco Vigis started a chess club on Saturday mornings, hosted at the Cape Flats Wellness Centre.
With two meetings under his belt, Vigis is also committed to feeding the children a solid meal and giving them a safe place to play and learn.
He is on a mission to make up for the bad choices he made as a skollie.
“One of the reasons I got into gangsterism and drugs is because I had nothing constructive to do with my time,” he told Weekend Argus.
“I feel like I owe it to the community for how destructive I was in my youth.
“As a delinquent youth, I’ve hurt people, I’ve used drugs, and as much of an activist that I am in the community now, I feel that I can never give back what I took out.
“It’s about providing a space and facility for kids to keep busy on the Saturday morning.”
Vigis said children as young as two were coming to the sessions along with their parents, who were attracted by the offer of a free breakfast.
“Children go hungry in Ocean View, there is a need for nutrition, so we give them something to eat. It sounds clichéd, but you can’t teach a hungry child,” he said.
Vigis’ son Neo, along with his friend, are on the Western Province chess team in the under-13 age group, and they attend the Saturday morning sessions to help coach the budding young chess fans.
Their version is called Blitz chess, where each player has a two-minute time limit and the play moves quickly.
The first step is to build the kids’ confidence by breaking down chess stereotypes.
“People associate chess with nerds or brainy people. Anybody can do it. All you need is passion,” Vasco explained.
He thanked the Ocean View and Kommetjie communities for donating chess boards.