NELSPRUIT (16 April 2012) – Amateur golfers from around the country have gathered for this year’s South African U-23 Inter-Provincial Championship at Nelspruit Golf Club and were delighted when the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, put it an unexpected appearance at the official opening on Sunday.
“This was the first time the Minister has attended a South African Golf Association (SAGA) sanctioned tournament,” said SAGA Executive Director, Bruce Younge.
“We were incredibly honoured to welcome the Minister to the opening ceremony. His presence, and the department’s endorsement of amateur golf, is highly inspirational for office bearers and the amateurs from 12 regions acrossSouth Africawho have gathered to compete for the SA U-23 Inter-Provincial title this week.”
After pledging his support to the development of golf and wishing the participants a good tournament, the Sports Minister hit the opening shot to officially start the tournament.
Younge explained that Mbalula attended the opening ceremony on the invitation of a former Nelspruit Golf Club caddie turned business man, Robert Gumede.
“Robert is an affluent businessman in the region, but he has a long association with golf, having started his career as a caddie at Nelspruit Golf Club,” Younge said.
“He invited the Minister on behalf of the Mpumalanga Golf Union and the SAGA. But Robert also contributed to the tournament by covering the cost of the official tournament brochures, by supplying the caddies with branded overalls for the week and by flying in the SowetoOpera Quadro to sing the national anthem and entertain us during the opening ceremony.
“It is wonderful to see how Robert, from his humble roots has become such a successful businessman but still has such a passion for golf. We are very appreciative as the support he has given this championship.”
As the official body responsible for the administration and development of amateur golf inSouth Africa, the SAGA works incredibly hard to strive for excellence in administration and develop the sport by ensuring that rigorous and frequent competitions are maintained in various age groups.
Last year the Department of Sport and Recreation(SRSA) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)recognised the work the SAGA has done with a nomination as one of the top federations in the country at the annual South African Sports Awards atSun City.
“We were incredibly proud of the nomination and our subsequent second place,” said SAGA president Colin Burger. “And having Minister Mbalula decide to attend the official opening of the SA U-23 Inter-Provincial in Nelspruit on Sunday really underlines the fact that the Ministry of Sport recognises how diligently we work to reach all the goals set out in our business plan and our ongoing commitment to the development of golf in South Africa.”