The Ministry of Education’s Allied Arts Unit and Guyana Golf Association’s (GGA) Nexgen Golf Academy have made huge strides as they continue to marry the sport with education.

Golf training for Physical Education Teachers in Regions Two, Four and Five on October 21-28, 2021 will bring the total number of secondary schools with access to golf to 82,and allow as many as 8 000 students access to one of the few fully compliant COVID-19 sports.

Ms. Barker-King, head of the Allied Arts Unit, thanked the Honorable Dr Priya Manickchand, Minister of Education (MoE); Mr Alfred King, Permanent Secretary; Dr Marcel Hutson, Chief Education Officer and Ms June Ann Gonsalves, ACEO Secondary, for their unwavering and full support of the rapid implementation of the sport in the school’s curriculum.

PE Teachers from Annandale, Buxton, Bladen Hall, LBI, Hope, Covent Garden, St Cuthbert, Diamond, Lancaster, Friendship, Plaisance, Dora, No.8, Woodley Park, Fort Wellington, Bush Lot, Belladrum, Novar, Mahaicony, Bygeval, and Rosignol Secondary Schools will train at the Nexgen Golf Academy facility from October 21 to 22, 2021 at Woolford Avenue.

Mr Hussain and Allied Arts Physical Education Officer, Kurt Braithwaite, will then travel to Region Two on October 27-28, 2021 to train teachers from Abram Zuil, Cotton Field, Johanna Cecilia, 8th of May, Charity, Aurora, Anna Regina and Wakapoa Secondary Schools.

According to Ms Barker-King, “There was a need for a sport that would allow our teachers and learners to safely participate in physical activities and golf was uniquely qualified to meet all of the requirements. The Honorable Minister and Senior Members of the education system understood that and moved quickly to ensure that there were tools necessary to implement the sport in as many schools as possible.”

Ms Barker-King further stated that without the determination of GGA/Nexgen Golf Academy president, Mr Aleem Hussain, who is active in training, seeking out contributions from sponsors and donors, the implementation of this programme would have taken much longer.

“We are happy to have found a great partner who has the knowledge and expertise to promote the sport to the nation. Together, in less than ten months, we have accomplished a monumental task and the results are phenomenal. In 2022, for the first time in our country’s history, golf will be offered as a sport at the CXC level.”

Mr Braithwaite said that this was just the first stage of development of the game and he expected that it will be made available to all grades and not just the upper levels in the new year.

“We would like to see learners from Grade 7-9 getting involved in the sport. This would evidently contribute to 25 000 young persons being involved in the sport. With plans already in place for the inter-school and regional competitions, we firmly believe that we can dominate on the world stage. ”

Hussain explained that it was a chance conversation in 2019 with Ms Melissa Dow-Richardson from the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport that contributed to golf being on the CXC syllabus which further led to the promotion of the sport in schools.

“The challenge was how to educate the PE Teachers; so a syllabus was designed and then a ‘Trainer of Trainers’ programme was conducted. Once completed, this allowed for the distribution of golf equipment and balls to certified schools.”

Hussain posited that his current focus is to build top quality facilities across the nation to provide the learners with access to playing the sport under conducive conditions.

“We are in the process of completing the first of its kind, scaled golf course in Crane and will also commence Leonora Secondary School facility shortly. We have asked NICIL for access to land in various regions to construct other small courses and we are awaiting response.”

“I’m positive that now that we’ve raised awareness and started a phenomenal programme in the shortest time possible, more support from the government and private sector to develop a national team and assist with building more golf facilities will be forthcoming.”

With Texila American University, School of the Nations, Camille’s School and several other private schools joining the sport, our main goal is to develop a Guyanese Olympic team, Guyanese PGA players and attain regional dominance in the sport, all leading to Guyana becoming a golf destination.

We can expect that more developers will seek to build communities around golf courses to cater to the influx of expatriates and re-migrants, for whom golf is a preferred game of choice.

This will allow for greater networking opportunities for Guyanese, since golf was not a traditional sport.