|Location: Brazil, South America|
PGA Professional: Craig Thomas (GB&I)
Brazil Goes Nuts for Footgolf
By Nat Sylvester
Craig Thomas introduced Footgolf to the South American country’s golf coaches during a teaching and coaching conference hosted by the Paulista Federation of Golf in Sao Paulo.
It went down well with delegates who will be looking to utilise the format, along with urban and street golf, to make golf more accessible as a sport.
Thomas, a Wolverhampton, UK, based PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Advanced Professional and Director of ‘The Golf Academy’ in Staffordshire, was representing The R&A at the two day conference as part of its Working For Golf project.
“My role was to look at alternative forms of golf to try and breakdown the barriers in Brazil that are stopping people getting into golf and bridge the gap,” explained Thomas.
“In Brazil they have a programme called Golfe Para Vida – Golf for Life – which develops golf in schools. Over 30,000 kids have received some golf coaching in schools and my role was to show how these kids can access golf outside of schools.
“We took urban and street golf and introduced it to the coaches so they could look at introducing golf in their communities because while a lot of kids would not be able to afford to join golf clubs, they would play nine holes of urban golf in the streets.
“We also showed the coaches Footgolf as a way of introducing golf to people who might be football fans and hadn’t previously considered golf as a sport they might try.
“It was a great experience to see how it worked and meet the coaches. There is no training programme for their coaches so they tend to be ex-caddies or players so it was a bit of a culture shock.
“It was a two day conference and the second day was showing coaches how they could get involved and set up street golf and Footgolf so they had the experience to take into the community.
“It went down really well and I’ve already had positive feedback with some of the coaches immediately looking at introducing urban and street golf into their communities.”
The R&A's Working For Golf Programme
The R&A invests up to £5 million of Open Championship generated income annually on different aspects of golf ranging from grassroots to coaching to equipment provision.
Much of this support is delivered to emerging nations as part of a drive to raise the profile of golf as a sport for life.
Today The R&A supports golf in over 120 countries worldwide and works closely with many of its affiliates including the PGAs of Europe.