Teeing up with a difference

2017-05-09 06:01
Ignation Douris tees off at King David Mowbray Golf Club showing the participants at the media dare how it should be done.

Ignation Douris tees off at King David Mowbray Golf Club showing the participants at the media dare how it should be done.

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To really understand someone else’s perspective, as the old adage goes, “you must walk a mile in their shoes”.

On Thursday, King David Mowbray Golf Club played host to a “media dare” as journalists experienced the challenges faced by disabled people living in an able-bodied world firsthand, and realised the momentous feats they must overcome to accomplish in sport. The event was held in the run-up to the Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open which takes place at King David Mowbray Golf Club, Cape Town from the 15 to 17 May.

“Everyone enjoyed a tremendously spirited day on the golf course. Although the event was fun-filled, it had at its core the goal to showcase the tremendous amount of perseverance, sheer guts and determination required to achieve in sport when you have a disability. Our guests got to hypothetically ‘walk in the shoes’ of a disabled person for a few hours and appreciate the challenges they face,” says Reinard Schuhknecht, brand ambassador for the SADGA and widely considered one of South Africa’s best disabled golfers.

Eighty-three of the world’s top golfers with disabilities compete for top accolades at this year’s championships. For two local lads it will offer the opportunity to pit their skills against the best in their own backyard.

Charles Williams (23) is deaf and lives in Lavender Hill after being brought up in Worcester. He taught himself to lip-read and is able to communicate with hearing people through this skill and has been playing golf for the last eight years.

“My first coach taught me to play and brought me through to the First Swing Programme. It was very difficult for the first year, because I could not focus because I could not hear, so I had to practice a lot and learn the concepts and get used to them. Also, I come from an area where they shoot every day and there was not a safe place for me, except the (deaf) school and the golf course,” says Williams.

He says that golf has taught him a lot about respect and that it has allowed him to come into contact with people he would normally have not been able to meet.

“I chose good friends, which is why I can easily stay out of the area (Lavender Hill) most of the time. I am becoming a better person with those who I am around and we grow together,” he adds.

Williams is hoping to defend his SA Open title in his division on home turf this time around.

Meanwhile, Ignation Douris, (18), from Athlone who attended Eros Schoolbut is originally from Citrusdal, was born without any legs and says that golf has given him a new lease on life after he went for a medical procedure.

“Golf means a lot to me, because you meet a lot of people you would not have known before. Since I have been in the programme, I travelled a lot and just to get a smile on your face from other people’s help, it was great for me. I think that since I have been in the First Swing Programme I have been happy. I always go to the golf course with a smile because I don’t take my home stuff to the golf course. Golf is a sport you must enjoy and I think golf taught me a lot. The one thing I like about golf is that it is about respect. You learn about the manners and how to treat other people and you learn how other people treat you on a golf course even when you are not on the course,” he says.

Williams has bigger goals which he hopes will elevate not only deaf people, but disabled people to greater heights.

“My big goal is that I would like to help every deaf person one day. I would like everyone to be a little more interested in deaf people and the topic of deafness, what it means to be deaf and how it affects us and those around us. I see that the golfers are aware of deaf people who play golf, but when you play soccer or rugby, there is not always awareness around the inclusiveness of disabled people. Golf is the only sport that can have people with different capabilities all sharing the same playing field.”

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