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Why Nigerian golfers are not competing on global stage yet – Obaleye

The Captain of the IBB International Golf and Country Club, Banjo Obaleye, has said Nigerian golfers have not been able to break onto the global…

The Captain of the IBB International Golf and Country Club, Banjo Obaleye, has said Nigerian golfers have not been able to break onto the global stage because most Nigerians see golf as an elite sport.

He disclosed this on Friday while speaking to journalists after the 2023 Independence Anniversary Golf Tournament’s flag-raising ceremony and match play.

“Golf is a multi-billion dollar business but unfortunately, apart from South Africa that has been able to get some of its indigenes into the world’s centre of golf, other (African) countries have been struggling because of this wrong perception that golf is only for elitists.

“Everything that is good, you start small and you then develop gradually to the limelight. We are trying to promote it in our own little way.

“Now, we are having some young people trying to break through the national rank in golfing and we believe that if we have that effort being supported very well by the relevant ministries, in the next few years, we will be seeing Nigerians too winning trophies abroad and coming home with a lot of millions of dollars.

“We have been hearing about football, and we have been hearing some dollars and pounds being taken from football, but just a tournament in golf can fetch the country over $10 million. So, you can see what that translates to in Naira.”

He said the government had to look at the opportunities in the sport in order to improve the country’s GDP.

Three other African countries – Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon – are participating in the tournament but the Captain of the IBB International Golf and Country Club said the target for Nigeria is above winning the tournament.

“You know we are the hosting country. It’s very difficult for any country to come to Nigeria and beat us especially when we talk about golf.

“But…it is not about winning. It is about friendship, it is about international diplomacy and it is about business networks beyond the borders of the country. That is what golf is all about and that is what we are trying to promote.

On her part, Ivah Mangala, who came from Uganda for the tournament, said she was aiming at winning the star prize – a brand new car.

President of Achimota Golf Club, Ghana, Adu Frank, said Nigeria always win whenever the Ghanaian side participates in competitions in the country but said his team was hoping to change the narrative this time.

“We normally win when we host in Ghana and Nigeria wins when they host but we want to change the narrative this time. We want to try and win this tournament for the first time,” he said.

Akabom Enebong, Chairman of the 2023 Independence Anniversary Golf Competition’s events and entertainment said IBB Golf and Country Club had been able to use golf to bring business people into Nigeria for investment.

While encouraging more youths to go golfing, he said there were more courses in Abuja now, adding that “Golf is not as expensive as it used to be”.

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