By Victor Okoye
A cross-section of golf enthusiasts in Abuja on Thursday sought for more participation in the golf, as well as future editions of the IBB Ladies Open Championship.
The golf enthusiasts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Ladies Section of the IBB International Golf and Country Club that the sport was the best form of exercise.
They spoke ahead of the 24th edition of the Ladies Open Championship, which had a ceremonial tee-off on Thursday ahead of its Friday commencement.
The enthusiasts called for more women participation in golf, saying it was the best form of exercise which enables one keep fit and stay healthy at all times.
Pauline Tallen, the Minister of Women Affairs, while commending the competition’s organisers, said the sport has far-reaching gains and women need to be part of it.
“I really want to commend members of the Ladies Section of the IBB Club for making me proud and I urge more women to join the golf club because golfing is just beautiful.
“It is one of the best forms of exercise that will keep one fit and healthy. It is also a good way to relax the mind and body as well as feel and enjoy the beauty of nature.
“The game of golf indeed keeps you in touch with nature and gives you a rare opportunity of meeting beautiful people from different countries with diverse backgrounds and culture.
“Having said that, let me use this opportunity to welcome all our guests from the different countries that are here for the championship and wish everyone a successful, injury-free and exciting competition.
“I believe at the end of it we will come out stronger and better lady golfers,” she said.
Olusegun Runsewe, the President of Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF), commended the IBB Club’s Ladies Section for putting up a good event.
He added that the competition was an opportunity for Nigerians to tell their story to other African countries.
“I commend the lady golfers of the IBB Golf Club for organising the 24th edition of the Ladies Open which is a unique brand of bringing so many countries together as well as stakeholders in the history of golf in Nigeria.
“I am extremely very happy and I can see the development of golf growing from strength to strength.
“For me, it is a new focus of giving the lady golfers another platform of improving their standard and coming together with other African countries to network and share ideas.
“So, we are very excited to have all of them here and I will also be participating in the tournament.
“This will indeed be another opportunity for us as a country to tell our story to the African countries that are here and let them see that golf is really improving in Nigeria.
“So, I am very happy and wish the ladies a very wonderful and successful outing and, at the end of the day, it will be a celebration for all,” he said.
Gbenga Elegbeleye, Chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), said golf was a sport for all classes of the society.
“It is indeed encouraging to see this large number of women from different countries participating in the beautiful game and I will like to see more women, especially in the country, get involved in golf.
“I wish all participants a seamless tournament and to also look beyond the competition as one for recreation.
“I urge the organisers to also find a way of encouraging the younger ones to play golf so as to develop the game at the grassroots,” he said.
Anne Abeja, President of the Ugandan Ladies Golf Union, said the championship was one of the top-rated tournaments on the African continent.
She added that always looked forward to participating in the competition.
“I am so excited to be here and I must confess that being a lady golfer is such a great feeling. It has many benefits as you get to travel and interact with people from different countries.
“There is also the health benefits derived from playing the game as well as so many other opportunities and advantages. So, it is an all-round game.
“I have been to several editions of the IBB Ladies Open, including that of last year. It was a great event with many foreign countries well represented and the competition was stiff. I emerged as the best foreign player
“I am looking forward to a stiffer competition this year and I hope to make the top 10,” she said.
Joy Ikwue, Captain of the IBB International Golf and Country Club, said the aim of the championship was to bring ladies from various countries and golf courses to compete and have fun.
“We are here once again to compete amongst ourselves and crown a new champion as well as network and foster camaraderie amongst ourselves.
“This year’s tournament promises to be more competitive as we will be talking of gross and not nett.
“When you talk of nett, that is when you deduct the handicap of the player. But this time around we are going to be playing ‘bone-to-bone’. So, it is basically going to be a gross tournament,” she said.
Jane Ahmed, Competition Secretary of the club’s Ladies Section, said no fewer than 160 lady golfers from Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Botswana are taking part in the tournament.
“This year’s tournament promises to be one of the biggest and highly competitive tournaments as we have ladies from all over the country as well as other African countries competing for honours in different categories.
“We have the Open Championship, which is the main tournament for handicap 0 to handicap 28 and will be played over a three-day period with the player with the lowest gross emerging as the overall winner,” she said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Olawale Alabi