Uganda’s golf will step into new waters when a four-man makes the country’s debut at the Toyota Junior World Cup in Japan on Tuesday.
Notwithstanding Phillip Kasozi debuting for the country on the European Tour early this year, this has been a long route for Uganda to the international golf stage. “To qualify for Japan hasn’t been easy,” said Uganda Junior Golf Development official Oscar Semawere.
Uganda qualified by holding off Morocco to finish second behind South Africa at the Phakalane Golf Course in Gaborone on March 15.
“We tried in Morocco and only got bronze last year yet they take two teams. In Botswana, we were determined,” stated Semawere.
Semawere has handled junior players at the national stage for half-a-decade and no better man to manage the team when they take up the new stage at the Chukyo Golf Club in Toyota City. The team flew out to Asia last evening after a flag-off at Protea Hotel yesterday where Uganda Golf Union (UGU) and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) announced a Shs151m partnership. “We have a MoU and are not looking at a one-off sponsorship. This is a long partnership that we are into,” remarked UTB CEO Lily Ajarova. Part of this sponsorship covers the on-going Uganda Golf Open Tour legs and national team logistics for the recently concluded Africa Region IV Championships won by Uganda in Burundi, this trip to Japan, the forthcoming Victoria Cup and the All-Africa Challenge due October in Mauritius.
No support from NCS
“At the moment, we don’t get any support from National Council of Sports (NCS),” said UGU chairman Innocent Kihika.“So it is good for some other government agencies to chip in and help us promote the game, and golf tourism both locally and now internationally,” he noted.
About Shs45m is for the jerseys for the teams like those captain Basalaine and company wore, carrying the famous hashtag #VisitUganda.
“Reaching the world stage is going to expose us to not only to the good golf playing nations but also, we’ll be considered a golf destination. It is not only for the juniors. People don’t know that there are golf courses in Uganda,” added Semawere.
Coach Stephen Kasaija’s boys will vie for honours against 14 other nations at a tournament that has been graced by familiar names like 2008 Masters winner South African Trevor Immelman, 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters king Charl Schwartzel and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose.
Each country will field four boys with each playing a round but only the best three scores will be considered over the four days.
From 78 participating nations across six continents, Uganda will now compete against Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and USA.
TOYOTA JUNIOR GOLF WORLD CUP
Tournament dates: June 18-23
Venue: Chukyo GC, Toyota City, Japan
Participating teams: Argentina,
Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark,
Japan, Mexico, Philippines, South
Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
Thailand, Uganda and USA