The prestigious Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) in partnership with Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and MST Golf Sdn Bhd, the operator of the KLGCC Golf Academy, have established the first of its kind golf academy, Rising Star Juniors, providing an opportunity for youths from disadvantaged backgrounds to excel in the sport.

The two-year programme funded by YSD with an RM645,000 sponsorship is targeted at youths between the ages of 12 to 17. 18 youths from a pool of 240 applicants were selected in April to participate in a comprehensive golf training programme which started in May. The youths will receive complimentary training equipment, professional coaching and transportation to and from KLGCC throughout their course. This Academy has its own host venue, KLGCC, an internationally recognised club with world class facilities.

“The objective of Rising Star Juniors is not only to train these youths in golf but also to develop skills and uplift their lives to become good, well-rounded and successful citizens contributing positively to society,” said Steven Thielke, General Manager of KLGCC.

Earlier in April, KLGCC approached 30 children’s shelter homes within the Klang Valley to participate in the programme.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response from the homes. The principals were very excited with the Rising Star Juniors programme and the numerous opportunities in store for the children. Besides golf, there will also be other activities including leadership development skills, life skills and community engagement,””Thielke added.

He also highlighted the importance of involving the homes and the families of the Rising Star Juniors programme participants in the project.

“KLGCC will not only work with the individuals, but will also be a support structure for the homes providing assistance financially, physically, morally and emotionally. This is important for the individuals under the Rising Star Junior programme so they do not feel isolated from the home.

“Golf is often perceived as a sport for the elite in Malaysia; and the programme will extend golf training to disadvantaged youths with limited resources – an initiative we believe has never been introduced before,” he said.

YSD Chairman YABhg. Tun Musa Hitam said the foundation firmly believed that all children should have equal access to developmental opportunities, regardless of their background.

“We see the potential of the Rising Star Juniors programme to achieve exactly  this. Golf is a sport that can help develop character as it requires high standards of behaviour and sportsmanship. Honesty, integrity and self-regulation are pre-requisites of character building and we believe that the programme will greatly impact the lives of the selected youths.

“With the training in golf, they will be exposed to positive developmental opportunities and potentially turn this sport into their vocation someday. We also hope that this opportunity will help to narrow the gap, as golf is often perceived as an elite sport. We look forward to working with KLGCC and MST Golf to see these youths molded into active, trustworthy, conscientious and productive members of society,” said Musa.

The Rising Star Juniors programme is divided into three phases:-

Phase 1 in April began with the screening of 240 participants at KLGCC via a series of physical fitness tests monitored by certified instructors, from which 18 junior trainees were selected for the academy.

Phase 2 began in May where 18 junior trainees started a 40-week training stint at KLGCC three times a week for two hours.

The students will first learn the fundamentals of Putting, Chipping, Pitching, Swing and Bunker play. They will then proceed to learn the rules and etiquette, playing on the golf course, course management and introduction to the psychology of the game, which helps prepare them mentally for the sport. During the final stages of the programme,

they will learn advanced shot-making and also be introduced into the club environment and golf industry.

Phase 3 is a continuity programme where the 18 junior trainees will be recommended to train for an additional 40 weeks under the advanced 9-level training programme

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