STENSON BRINGS LITTLE STICKS PHILOSOPHY TO NEW ROSHN INITIATIVE IN JEDDAH
KING ABDULLA ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: A few days before he was getting felicitated as Golfer of the Year by the Swedish Golf Federation in 2006, Henrik Stenson was reading a golf magazine in Malmo when he chanced upon an article on para golfers.
“I think it was the joy on their faces as they tried to hit shots,” said the Majesticks GC Captain. “It just made me feel good that golf could bring a smile on their faces.”
As part of the Swedish Golfer of the Year award that year, Stenson was on stage and was offered a scholarship that he could donate to any organisation or person. There was no hesitation on his part. “I didn’t have to wait and think. I immediately gave it Helena Brobeck, the lady who ran the programme,” remembers Stenson.
“And in 2007, we won the Golfer of the Year again. And I gave it to the same people. Helena then asked me to become an ambassador for them. That’s how my association started with para golfers.”
That association reached another milestone on Thursday of LIV Golf Jeddah, presented by ROSHN, when Stenson co-hosted a clinic at Royal Greens Golf Club for 15 disabled children from Jeddah’s Help Centre alongside Jason Kokrak. The clinic was organised by tournament sponsors ROSHN, a leading real estate developer in the Kingdom.
“I have always loved helping the para golfers in whichever way I can. It gives me immense satisfaction. I have always felt that these kids are missing out on so many things in life, and golf lends itself as a perfect sport for them to get involved,” the 47-year-old Swede explained.
“What amazes me all the time is how full of life these kids are despite being dealt such a tough hand. They truly inspire me. They crack jokes with each other and say things that will be considered politically incorrect for any of us. They need all the support and funding, and I am so proud that professional golf and golfers are able to do a lot for them.”
The clinic was part of LIV Golf’s ‘Potential, Unleashed’ in which the League aims to contribute to climate and sustainability initiatives and impart golf and life skills to children who are disabled or from deprived communities.
ROSHN has agreed to a long-term agreement with Help Centre, and the initiative in Jeddah will include the distribution of SNAG golf equipment, imparting training to teachers, and developing a programme that makes golf a part of the daily routine for the children.
“It is a great initiative from ROSHN, more so because it’s not a one-off thing. They want to do this properly and as a long-term project. Sustained impact is what we need rather that such an outing becoming a one-day fun activity for these kids. Nothing will give me more pleasure to see them pick up golf and come back when I am in Jeddah the next time,” added Stenson.
“For me to get involved was a no-brainer. I love supporting para golfers, and this also aligns beautifully with what we are trying to do as a team. Majesticks has its own Little Sticks project, in which we are trying to positively impact the lives of special needs and children in areas of deprivation.
“We have started pilot projects in Newcastle, Luton and Orlando where we are building capacity in local communities to use golf to support young people’s development. We have tied up with five schools and our golf programme, which also includes developing certain key life skills as resilience and teamwork, is becoming part of their curriculum.
“We are committed to 50 sessions in the pilot phase across these five schools ranging from primary school, secondary school and special education, and are going to add many more in the near future. I personally am looking forward to taking our Little Sticks project to parts of the Middle East and Asia.”