THE Zimbabwe women’s golf team coach Rhoda Muridzo believes her players’ exposure to various international tournaments would serve them well ahead of their participation in the All-Africa Challenge Trophy (RAACT) which gets underway on Monday at the Omeya Golf Estate in Windhoek, Namibia.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
A four-member national team comprising of Aulia Alfazema, Loice Chingono, 12 year-old Danielle Bekker and Batsirai Tilowakuti left the country yesterday for the fifth edition of the regional tournament which will feature teams from South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.
The format is 54-hole stroke play, with two leading scores to count towards the team score.
Speaking during the team’s send-off ceremony at Royal Harare Golf Club yesterday, Muridzo said in addition to the extended time the team had to prepare for the competition some of the players had also been exposed to top level competition.
“I’m pleased that this time around we have had enough time to practice and make sure we are prepared. In the past the team was named a month or so before the tournament and we had only a couple of weeks to prepare but this year we have had three to four months of intense preparation,” Muridzo said.
“The other thing that I’m happy about is that some of the players were actually playing in other tournaments outside Zimbabwe just before this trip. Loice Chingono and Danielle Bekker were actually in South Africa playing in the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship which is one of the top events on the continent.
“Aulia Alfazema was in Dubai taking part in some tournaments. So it has given the players an opportunity to be exposed to high level competition and tough courses which we expect to face in Namibia,” Muridzo said.
Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union president Nancy Dube said it had been a challenge to secure sponsorship for the team ahead of their participation in Namibia and encouraged the corporate world to support women’s golf.
“To be very honest the support from the corporate world has been very poor. We’ve been struggling to find a sponsor for the team to participate in Namibia. I want to appeal to the sponsors out there to support ladies golf. Looking at the number of young players that are coming up I believe we are also doing very well. Hopefully the team will do well in Namibia and then we might see most of the corporate companies coming out to support us,” Dube said.
Zimbabwe, who finished third and fourth respectively in 2013 and 2014, have a decent record in the regional competition which has been dominated by South Africa.
South Africa won the first event at Phakalane Golf Estate in Botswana and remains undefeated after visiting the Nkonyeni Course in Swaziland in 2009, Royal Harare in Zimbabwe in 2011 and celebrating a home victory at Centurion Country Club in 2013.
Regional All-Africa Challenge Trophy events are held biennially in West Africa, Southern Africa, North Africa and East/Central Africa and are financially supported by the Royal and Ancient of St Andrews.
Meanwhile seasoned Zimbabwean golf administrator and current Africa Golf Confederation vice president Obed Dube made the country proud in Zambia recently after winning the Senior Golfers Society of Zambia (SGSA) National Championship in Kitwe on Wednesday.
Dube, who plays off eight handicap, beat a healthy field of 48 golfers to cap the three days of playing golf in Zambia, shrugging off a challenge from Bertie Serfontain, who also polled 84 points but lost on a count-back.
Dube, who lived in Zambia for 22 years, said his victory was a befitting return, having played in Zambia last year.
The former Zimbabwe Golf Association president, who turns out for Royal Harare Golf Club, said part of his participation in the national championship was a surveillance of senior golfers in Zambia and is happy that the society is growing as opposed to the fragmentation he saw last year.