Disabled children took their first swing at the inaugural Canon First Swing Gauteng Inter Schools golf tournament, hosted by the South African Disabled Golf Associations (SADGA), First Swing Programme and Canon South Africa on 23 June 2016.
Children with varying disabilities from four Gauteng schools got the opportunity to participate in the tournament. For many of the children, this was the first time they have had the chance to pit their skills against other emerging golfers who have also overcome disability in a regional competition.
The competition took place at the Wits Golf Academy, Raikes Road, Braamfontein. The participating schools were Hope School, West Rand School, Prinshof School and Alma School. All of the participants partook in SADGA’s First Swing Programme, which works to develop skills and inculcate a passion for golf among young school children with disabilities. All of the young competitors are level two and three golfers on the First Swing Programme and are able to play four to nine holes of regular golf.
The First Swing Programme offers a platform which exposes children with disabilities to the game of golf. The primary focus of the programme is on rehabilitation and psychological development of disabled children. The programme is operational in 35 schools across the country, with some 800 children benefitting every week.
‘Through our First Swing Programme, we create a modified sports environment where children with disabilities can participate in sport and feel part of a group. It has tremendous benefits, increasing self-esteem, confidence, respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity and perseverance.
‘We constantly look for and work to create opportunities for young golfers to play in competitions. For the Canon First Swing Gauteng Inter Schools golf day, we created a five-hole competition to allow our level two and three players the opportunity to get a taste of a real golf tournament on a course they are able to play. It was a wonderful experience for our young players,’ said SADGA’s founder, Eugene Vorster, who established the First Swing Programme.
Canon SA has been closely involved with the SADGA since 2001. Since then, the company’s involvement has continued to grow and blossom, with its support focusing specifically on the First Swing initiative.
‘Playing golf has shown to have exceptional physical and emotional benefits for people with disabilities. During our association with SADGA, we have seen first-hand the positive impact of the programme on the rehabilitation and psychological development of young people with disabilities. They become part of a group; they learn respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity and perseverance while their self confidence and self esteem grows. This is the impetus for our ongoing support of the programme for almost 15 years,’ said Dana Eitzen, Corporate Marketing and Communications Executive at Canon SA.
‘There is probably nothing more rewarding than to see a child, bold enough to believe, and achieve what few imagined was possible. It was wonderful to see the young golfers participating in the Canon First Swing Gauteng Inter Schools golf tournament. These are children who have shown dedication, commitment and passion to learn, to try, and to never give up on their dreams of playing a sport.’