The South African Disabled Golf Association (SADGA), apart from the executive director, is run entirely by volunteers who believe that the quality of life for all disabled can be enhanced through participation and interaction with other disabled golfers.
One such person is Eugene Vorster, SADGA’s executive director.
Eugene, who was an avid golfer when he had a motorcycle accident, which led to the amputation of his arm, has been actively involved with disabled golf since 1999. “After my accident I must have sulked for two years because I could not play golf. Then a friend of mine told me he had seen a golfer with one arm playing golf. This motivated me into action and I started to play golf again.”
Always an active sportsman, who enjoyed sports such as squash and tennis, Eugene now enjoys his golf as much as before. And it is a motivating factor in his life: “I want to show others there is life out there and that golf can give you life again.” (Picture: Christiaan Nachtwei from Germany.)
Eugene’s passion has propelled him into the position of tournament director of the SA Disabled Open in 2001. And his enthusiasm has been such that the Open has grown from 29 entries in 1999 to 120 this year.
What has also helped is the consistency of the tournament’s sponsors and suppliers, which have, says Eugene, been with the event since its inception.
“What also plays a role is the fact that the tournament was broadcast on SuperSport in a half an hour slot, repeated seven times in one week. This does mean corporates take us more seriously.”
Eugene attributes a lot of the tournament’s success and growth to the fact that the association produces a sporting event that is well organised, professional and adds value to its sponsors.
However, his passion extends beyond the tournament.
“The SADGA is more than just the tournament,” says Eugene. “It focuses on improving a disabled person’s social, emotional and physical well-being and provides the moral, physical and financial support needed for new and existing members.”
The SADGA, founded in January 2002, is a Section 21 company. The process started in July 2003. Eugene explains, “The proposal was put to the committee to form SADGA into a section 21 company in order for us to be in charge of our own finances and, most importantly, to create the necessary credibility to allow us to build sustainable relationships with corporate South Africa, with the government, and with the general golfing fraternity.”
“This is important to ensure golf be accessible to all people with disabilities in this country. For example the First Swing Clinics, introduced in 2002, have also grown enormously.” (Picture: Anthony Netto (Left) and Steyn Humphreys.)
First Swing focuses on children with disabilities and currently the project is jointly funded by the Paralympic Development Trust and the Sports Trust thru Nedbank.
Eugene took part in the European Disabled Golf Championships in Italy in September 2005. “I was in Italy to investigate opportunities for funding the First Swing Clinics in 2006, but I am also speaking to all the countries represented there about a world cup event for disabled golf. It is dream that I want to take further.”
Eugene also supported the nine South African golfers who participated in the tournament.