Akope lauds Rugumayo, tees off next generation

Rugumayo takes in the applause at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO/EDGAR HAMALA 

What you need to know:

The Ugandan golf legend is also - through his upcoming foundation - embarking on nurturing the next generation of golfers, a project he is partnering with The Legends Marathon to ensure the youngsters’ development is approached holistically

From three-time Ryder Cup champion, Paul McGinley, to the Championship’s 2023 winning captain, Luke Donald - they exalted.

Ronald Rugumayo’s putt on the par-4 ninth green of the par-71 Muthaiga Golf Club during the Magical Kenya Open last Friday, of course, wasn’t the greatest piece of magic ever witnessed on a golf course.

But for its sheer significance, it was huge! So huge that it made the Tooro Golf Club player the first-ever Ugandan to make the cut on the DP World Tour (European Tour), and also the only East African to make the grade on the day.

Another legend of the game in Deo Akope, who followed proceedings on TV back in Kampala, was equally exhilarated, if not relieved. 

“What Rugumayo has done is earn us - Ugandan professionals - respect at the top level,” the two-time Uganda Pros Open champion and thrice Amateur Open winner told the Daily Monitor. 

“He has opened the doors for us and now they will take us more seriously.”

Later while appearing on the country’s Monday night flagship show, the NTV Sport Knights, Akope added: “The DP World Tour is a significant event for the region, and anyone who makes the cut achieves something big. 

Deo Akope Foundation

“Rugumayo has put in a lot of hard work, he has a coach in South Africa who has improved him a lot. He has made us proud as a country.

“All I ask of us as a country is now to fully support Rugumayo because he has so many events lined up and we want him to get even stronger from here.”

Akope, who has won local and regional titles both as a player and coach, also talked about his upcoming Deo Akope Foundation., which he plans to launch in May as a talent nurturing program. 

But before then, he is organising the Deo Akope Challenge, which will lead into the Foundation launch.

“We are looking at having a three-series Akope Challenge some time next month and late April, with everything ending with the launch of the Foundation in May, where we shall probably have the first kids to take on.”

The Legends Marathon

“Through this, we can then refine these youngsters, where even your Legends Marathon concept now comes in with the holistic approach, not just playing golf.”

Akope is also one of several top Ugandan athletes that have embraced the upcoming Legends Marathon due April 6 in Kampala, with the starting and finishing points at Nakasero Primary School Ground. 

“Looking at The Legends Marathon, I kept asking myself, where has the government been on this?” Akope questioned.

“We have seen people die, people who have represented the country. I am 100 per cent behind this initiative; this is supposed to be a government program but I’m happy my friend here (this writer) has initiated it.

“I have started training and I will run. I will also bring legends to run in this cause.”

The annual Legends Marathon is built on supporting active and retired athletes to prepare for and manage their transitions to life after active sport, while providing a platform for young talent and enhancing community growth.

Mental health, mentorship, financial literacy, job placements, career change, business skilling, further education and coaching badges are some of the programs The Legends Marathon will use to drive its sustainable goals. 

To purchase your tickets for the April 6 Legends Marathon, log onto https://thelegendsmarathon.com/ and complete payment using Mobile Money or bank cards.