The Fiji International is more than just a golf tournament; it has a dream of growing the game of golf for Fijian kids.
Each year the Fiji International brings some of the world’s best golfers to Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course and while the sport garners plenty of attention during that week and encourages adults and children alike to give golf a go, it is hoped that a year round program will result in greater participation.
This program is implemented in schools thanks to Fiji PGA Professional Nemani Ratumayale. The Fijian coach, who has worked all over the world, is visiting schools all over the country introducing kids to golf.
While this golf in schools program has been in effect since the launch of the Fiji International, Ratumayale is taking it to a new level in 2017 after a recent visit to Australia.
“The Fiji International is doing a great thing by taking golf into the schools. I have seen lots of kids become interested in taking up golf after they have had a school clinic,” said Ratumayale.
“I have seen lots of talented kids in Fiji; they need to be monitored properly, shown the basics and get them interested in the game of golf. Most kids love rugby and netball so golf can be a challenge for them.”
Recently Ratumayale was flown to Melbourne and the PGA of Australia’s head office by the Fiji International to receive training from junior golf experts; Matthew Street and Australian PGA Professionals Nick Bielawski and Paul Boxall.
“I have enjoyed my time in Melbourne. I learned a lot of new techniques,” added Ratumayale.
“I undertook some class room sessions around the different programs that we can implement and how to set them up.
“We also went and visited some schools in Melbourne to see how the Australian professionals conducted their golf clinics. This was very interesting for me as it was quite different to what we are already doing in Fiji.”
Australian golf has seen an influx in junior golfers thanks to its successful national junior golf program; MyGolf. Ratumayale was trained in MyGolf principles and brings back to Fiji with him many new methods for coaching beginner golfers.
“I am going to try and make the game interesting for the kids, teaching them that playing golf is a fun thing,” added Ratumayale.
“Normally we do straight forward skills coaching in Fiji but on my trip to Australia I learned lots of games that can be played which helps make what you are teaching fun and more interesting.”
Seeing the power of knowledge, Ratumayale plans to teach his fellow Fijian Professional Golfers as well as teachers in schools across the country his new techniques.
This will then allow more instructors to conduct junior golf clinics across the country all year.
“I am here to continue our golf in school programs and bring the information I have learned back to teachers in Fiji so that they can also help with the golf in schools program,” added Ratumayale.
“To come home and teach other Fiji Professionals what I have learned is one of the main reasons for my trip to Australia. So not only myself, but all the Professionals will be able to use this knowledge.”
The PGA of Australia was delighted to host Ratumayale and extend some its knowledge with their friends in Fiji.
“Fiji is an exceptionally talented sporting nation and since the Fiji International launched in 2014 we have been pleased to see an increase in the interest in golf,” said Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia.
“In Australia we believe that children are the future of the game and we have dedicated many resources and time to grow the game from a grass roots level via the MyGolf program.
“We hope that Nemani found his visit to the PGA of Australia worthwhile and that he is able to adapt some of the skills and techniques from the MyGolf program to suit Fijian schools and children.
“The Fiji International is helping spread the word about the quality of golf courses in Fiji but we hope through introducing the game of golf to more children we are able to help uncover many talented players who will go on to forge successful golf careers like Vijay Singh.”