Chimanimani's rough golf diamonds

HARARE - Bare feet with old clubs in hand, enthusiastic young golfers practise their drive, chip and putt skills at the 9-hole Chimanimani Country Club hoping that one day the sport will be their way out of poverty.

Some stand awkward, others spot golf apparel handed down by well-wishers, but the ball does not discriminate, it always goes straight and to them that’s what matters.

The ultimate goal is to make it in the expensive but equally rewarding sport where a new average club set costs $300.

They, however, know that once they turn pro and earn an exemption card to play on the hugely rewarding Sunshine Tour circuit there is a lot of money up for grabs.

But before they dare to dream of becoming Zimbabwe’s next Tongo Charamba or Ryan Cairns, they have to overcome their circumstances.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOLF: Barefooted young Matsetso Stars golfers work on their swings at Chimanimani Gold Club.

To do so some “of the kids caddie for golfers and others sell firewood,” Peza Trust trustee Jane High tells the Daily News.

The fledgling golfers are currently part of a youth club called Matsetso Stars which is supported by Peza Trust, who assist with paying school fees, facilitating coaches and mentorship.

The club’s name is drawn from the village called Matsetso that is on the slopes of Chimanimani Country Club.

“A number of them are orphaned or afflicted by HIV but, by and large, the kids are born into a cycle of poverty from which they struggle to escape,” High says.

“(But) they get to play golf for free, no green fees or membership fees required….Some of them we help them with food stuffs and some of them we help with their school fees,” she adds.

“The other day somebody said ‘but why teach them golf? Such an expensive sport... a rich man’s sport,” said the former Mashonaland and Scotland Under-23 field hockey player.

“These children are some of the poorest if you are talking about poor meaning no money.

“But golf is one sport that teaches honesty, respect for self and others, sportsmanship and you play against yourself for the rest of your life,” she says.

The former Zimbabwe Aquatic Union director of coaching said shortage of equipment and coaches “means we have had to close entry at 90 kids”.

“Some of these youngsters wrote me a moving letter in February 2013 and from this, their own initiative, Matsetso Youth Club was born…Our club has grown both in the number of attendees as well as the range of activities available to Matsetso Youth,” High says.

“When I was their age I travelled the world because of sport, some coaches took an interest in me and gave me a chance and that’s an opportunity I want to pass on to them.”

High is grateful to Trip Trans, Royal Harare Golf Club, pro shops among other well-wishers who have come on board to ensure the young golfers realise their dream.

She says: “It doesn’t matter if they play with old clubs, when they play with the new stuff they are gonna fly!”

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