I do agree with Ladies Golf Union of Malawi president Wilma Chalulu, who says they need to invest in the youth in order to develop the sport at grassroots after performing badly during the East and Central Africa Regional Challenge at Lilongwe Golf Club, the first time-ever for Malawi to host a ladies international golf tournament.
The hosts came last of the four teams that participated and this is the fourth consecutive time that they have come last. After seeing that the visiting countries brought in young blood, Chalulu rightly suggests that they need to go back to the drawing board and invest more in the sport.
Team Malawi comprised Roza Mbilizi, Regina Mwanza, Carol Banda and Sheila Chinkhandwe which had an average age of 40 while the visitors brought youthful players.
It’s not just the ladies game that needs investing in the youth because golf in general is played as a pastime despite having attracted a high rate of support from the corporate world.
The men’s national golf team has participate at the annual southern Africa regional Zone VI tournament for many years but Malawi has never won the tournament and its best performance was finishing second in 2003 and 1986.
This sport needs to graduate from being a social pastime it currently enjoys into a serious status other countries attach to it. Most of the top golfers rarely give it all the attention it deserves to perfect their game and move a step forward like what other countries in the region do.
Most of the Zone VI countries’ golfers aspire to, at least, play professional golf in South Africa while South Africans strive to participate at the highest international professional level.
Time has come for the golf unions and the Malawi National Council of Sports to develop a plan in how to make the sport graduate from a social pastime to the next serious level.
Most of the current top golfers are past their prime of making it into the professional ranks but they can be used as models to inspire younger golfers. Of course, the men’s Golf Union does have a development programme and from what I have observed during their special tournaments, the kids have the potential to break into the top ranks — they only need a suitable environment to perfect their game further.
Most of the kids are privileged to undergo this development programme because their parents also play golf or just the fact that they are members of the sports clubs.
The current players who represent Malawi at the Zone VI should give their all to the game to inspire the youths to take up the sport while the authorities should provide the right incentive to attract more participation.
So the three bodies — the ladies and men’s union and the Sports Council — should strategise on how they can utilise the available resources for the sport to make a big impact.
There was once a plan by the Golf Union of Malawi to turn the Njamba Freedom Park at Soche Township in Blantyre into a golf course. I wonder what happened to that wonderful and ambitious and ambitious plan.
That plan can be revived. The Njamba Freedom Park can be preserved and added with more beauty by turning into a general public golf course as suggested by the Golf Union several years back.
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