The Ladies’ Section of the IBB Golf and Country Club in Abuja must do more for golf to develop better at the grass roots in Nigeria, Sports Minister Solomon Dalung says.
Dalung said on Thursday in Abuja during the ceremonial tee-off of the 21st IBB Ladies Golf Championship that the potential for development was there for tapping.
“The club only needs to initiate good programmes that will utilise personnel, potential and resources to get the right results,’’ the Minister of Youths and Sports Development said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the championship which gets underway officially on Friday is holding at the IBB International Golf and Country Club course in Abuja.
The Minister said grassroots development of the sport was very critical to the growth and development of the sport in the country.
“The issue of grassroots development of the game of golf must be given serious and adequate concern.
“I wouldn’t want a situation where when these set of professionals you have now phase out, you will still have to go back to the drawing board.
“The truth is that any country which repeats development by revisiting the drawing board, such a country will remain perpetually underdeveloped.
“But I believe the lady golfers do not intend to tow that line. Therefore, whenever I will be invited here again, I will want to see a situation where young lady golfers are part of the championships,’’ he said.
Dalung also called on the Nigeria Golf Association to partner with the ministry in its activities.
“As a ministry, we also want to challenge the golf association to try to partner more with us, in terms of your programmes.
“This is very important, so that we can be more involved and participate not only in your local competitions but also in your international engagements as well.
“The ministry has provisions of support for any association that is traveling out to represent Nigeria and in case you do not know, once a team qualifies to play outside the country, it automatically becomes the President’s team.
“Therefore, it is the responsibility of the country’s President to cater for the welfare and security of the team and he is also expected to give his blessings and wish the team well in Nigeria,” he said.
The club’s Lady Captain, Julie Acholonu, assured that the club’s Ladies Section was doing a lot in terms of grassroots development of the sport.
“We are indeed very delighted to have the minister present at the tee-off of this year’s event. It is indeed a significant milestone in the history of the championship.
“We have listened and taken note of all you have said, particularly in the area of grass roots development of our sport.
“I am delighted to say that grass roots development is very dear to our heart and we have been doing a lot as a club in that area.
“We organise regular clinics, workshops and competitions for the young ones.
“We have started to catch them young because we are aware that the crop of the golfers we have now will soon phase out as age is not on our side.
“In fact, we have a 13-year-old girl in the club, Iyene Essien, who has been nominated to represent Nigeria.
“This category of golfers are part and parcel of this championship and they will be playing on the final day,” she said.
NAN reports that the event began with the hoisting of the various participating countries’ flags.
The participating players are from countries like Sweden, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Botswana, Ghana, as well as Nigeria,
The three-day gross championship will begin on Friday with no fewer than 260 participants, and it is expected to end on Sunday.(NAN)