Youngsters from cities all over Britain came to Loughborough University to experience the Golf Foundation’s National ‘Golf Roots’ Final on Wednesday (29th September). On the eve of the Ryder Cup, potential stars of the future were learning why team golf can be fun and how it can help them develop as individuals.
Golf Roots is run by leading golf charity the Golf Foundation and aims to reach one million youngsters a year by 2013, supporting the national golf partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales to grow the game.
With constantly increasing participation figures for Golf Roots, and supported by the key governing bodies of the game, this Loughborough final served as a major showcase for Golf Roots and its encouragement of youngsters from all backgrounds and circumstances.
Golf Roots offers technical skills but also helps to instil ‘Skills for Life’, attributes including honesty, respect, co-operation, self-motivation, concentration and perseverance – team skills that were much in evidence at Celtic Manor. Earlier in the year, 21 urban areas held regional school competitions to provide teams for the Loughborough final.
Invited guests from the highest echelons of the sport, including Sport England, The R&A, the England Golf Partnership, clubgolf, the Professional Golfers’ Association, and the Youth Sport Trust, watched boys and girls playing a series of high-energy, quick-fire team games with Tri-Golf equipment, which tested their skill, speed, teamwork and consideration for other competitors.
Popular DJ and BBC radio presenter DJ Spoony, who has been a Golf Roots Ambassador for the city projects from the start and raised thousands of pounds for the charity, was a special guest for the event and shared valuable insights with the youngsters on the day.
Awards and prizes were given to teams and individuals, with the winning team coming from Rednall Hill School in Birmingham, an area lauded for its junior grass roots development, producing spectacular results in the numbers of youngsters having access to golf in schools. Second place team was Mandeville Primary from Hertfordshire, while third was St Chads RC Primary from South London.
Just as relevant as the award for technical skills was the day’s ‘Skill for Life’ prize, which went to the boys and girls of Malmesbury Park School, Bournemouth, who showed exemplary respect for other competitors throughout the day.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “It was satisfying to first present figures to our VIP guests which demonstrate the success of our Golf Roots programmes in schools, communities and clubs, and then to show them Golf Roots in action in a highly charged atmosphere of competition and fun, so they could see the effect on the children taking part.”
Mike added: “However, this day was really all about the youngsters who had worked so hard to get to the National Final. Their behaviour was impeccable and their competitive spirit, which shone through while clearly enjoying all the games, was an example to all adult sportsmen and women.
“We timed this event to coincide with the Ryder Cup to showcase how the Golf Foundation is working with its partners to increase participation and develop youngsters who have an appreciation of the ‘Skills for Life’ that this sport can offer. One of our Ambassadors, Lee Westwood, started his golf with support from the Golf Foundation, so why can’t one of these youngsters follow Lee and one day play in the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup?”
An important feature of the day was the work of young volunteers who helped all the children to enjoy their games and keep score. Working closely with the England Golf Partnership, clubgolf in Scotland and Golf Development Wales, the Golf Foundation made it a top priority in every Golf Roots region for local organisers to encourage young volunteers to mentor children as they start in golf. Their positive influence is seen as a great way to encourage hard-to-reach youngsters.
Brendon Pyle, National Development Manager for the Golf Foundation, said: “Some of these children had rarely travelled out of their city as well as being new to golf. For a number of the North Lanarkshire youngsters it was their first exciting trip in an aeroplane to get here. It is stories like this that make you understand how important access to sport can be for a young person.”
Cities represented in the final included East London, Durham, Sheffield, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Hertfordshire, Bournemouth, South London, Wrexham, Cardiff, Carlisle, North Lanarkshire, and Birmingham.
The Golf Roots city project is sustainable, creating a ‘player pathway’ for many of these youngsters to pursue their new sport at golf clubs and driving ranges under qualified supervision. Local deliverers of the project have worked with school sport partnerships made up of teachers, volunteers, PGA professionals and the children themselves to create the huge Golf Roots programme.
Golf Roots has some heavyweight support from The R&A, The European Tour, the Ryder Cup, the PGA, the BGIA, England Golf and Sport England. A further amount of money has been made available from the Ryder Cup Trust.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org