One of the stars of the sixth Asia Pacific Golf Summit was Malaysian teenager Aaerishna Shahsthy Balakrishnan.
‘Aaeri’, as he is better known, delivered a powerful message to more than 200 dignitaries and delegates representing 18 countries assembled at the Grand Hall at Brunei’s Empire Hotel & Country Club.
The 13-year-old drew a rousing reception following an impassioned plea for greater support to junior golfers in Asia.
During a 10-minute address, Aaeri outlined the plight of the majority of budding young golfers in the region, citing the lack of backing and encouragement from golf clubs and national golfing associations.
“We need to be given more support. More needs to be done to help junior golfers in Asia,” said Aaeri, whose success in age group sections at the Callaway Junior World Golf Championship in America has come in spite of numerous barriers placed in the way of budding young players in Asia.
“Up to the age of about nine or 10 I was able to compete with Americans of the same age but then they move up another level because of the coaching and attention they receive and we are left behind,” said Aaeri, who has had to rely almost exclusively on financial support from his parents.
“Once we fall behind at that age it’s difficult to catch up. We need to have proper programmes put into place that will allow us to grow at the same pace – and to stay competitive.”
In a concluding pitch on behalf of his fellow junior players across the region, Aaeri implored: “Please help us to grow – and to bring golf glory to Asia.”
One company that has been quick to respond is PING. Before Aaeri departed Bruneito compete in a tournament in Kuala Lumpur, it was announced that the Arizona-based golf club manufacturer would in future be providing him with support in the shape of golfing equipment.