The Sunday News
Brandon Moyo, Sports Reporter
SEVEN Zimbabwean junior golfers are a part of the inaugural Africa High Performance Program Camp which is taking place at the Balderstone Sports Institute.
The event runs until Saturday and is the first of its kind in the continent. It was put together by R and A, International Golf Federation, South Africa Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and the Olympic Solidarity in partnership with the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.
The five Zimbabwean golfers who joined in the camp across the Limpopo River are Munashe Ndaruza, Primrose Chilwaya, Kudzai Mandava, Tanaka Chatora, Michael Wallace, Keegan Shutt and Tariro November. The young golfers went with coach, Phillip Tshuma.
With countries outside South Africa like Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda among others not having High Performance Centres for golf, R and A came up with the initiative to fund a programme which will take young golfers from across the continent to the centre in South Africa.
With Zimbabwe contributing seven of the 18 golfers who are partaking in this particular program, Zimbabwe Golf Association (ZGA) President Martin Chikwanha said it speaks highly of the talent that is in the country.
“In this particular part of the programme, there are 18 young golfers that have come from throughout Africa and out of the 18 we have seven, which speaks highly of Zimbabwe and the talent that we have and also it speaks highly of our junior development program,” said Chikwanha.
The oldest person from team Zimbabwe is 21 years old while the youngest is 15. There is also a 16-year-old and two 19 years old who are tipped to be the future of golf in the country.
The main objective of the High-Performance Programme is to ensure that young golfers are equipped with the requisite skills for their betterment in the sport so that they are able to play the sport at the highest level.
With Olympic Solidarity being one of the partners in the event, Chikwanha said they are hoping to have an Olympian emerging from the group that is in South Africa.
“One of the long-term projects is that, as you might have seen, part of the sponsors of this programme is the Olympic Solidarity fund, we are hoping that from this group we could have an Olympian along the way should they develop and become professional golfers.
“The short-term objective is, R and A hopes to help establish an African amateur championship by 2024 and they are in the middle of putting together that championship and the aim of that championship is to try and make it as competitive as it can,” said Chikwanha.
The High-Performance Programme will ensure that building up to the African amateur championship there will be a variety of probable winners coming from outside South Africa.
With a coach having travelled to South Africa with the youngsters for the programme, Chikwanha believes his knowledge and skills will also play a role in helping others locally.
“We have sent through a coach who will be part of the team whenever we intend to send a team out as a national coach and one of the things that he will need to do is look after the juniors and also impart the skills that he will uptake in South Africa towards developing some juniors locally so it’s an all-round win, win situation where we are trying to raise the level of skills that you will find amongst local golfers and also take the level of performance for those that are good to the next level,” said Chikwanha.
Chikwanha said, as ZGA, they wish to ensure that they continue to spread the high level of performance, which saw Zimbabwe providing seven players at the camp, throughout the country so that they have more golfers coming through and performing at a high level.
The High-Performance Camp seeks to sharpen the golfing skills of young players so that they can participate in any elite competition.
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