|Ian Woosnam joined pupils from Llanyrafon Primary School, Torfaen on the fairways of the prestigious Celtic Manor Resort in Newport as Dragon Sport Golf was launched. And as Wales looks forward to welcoming the Ryder Cup to Welsh shores in 2010, youngsters across the country can now look forward to a revolution in the junior golf game as the Sports Council for Walesâ flagship programme teams up with Golf Development Wales in this landmark project.
Woosnam hopes that the Dragon Sport Golf programme will help hone the skills of future successful Welsh golfing exports:
âIâm always keen to support opportunities for younger children and itâs fantastic to see so many children picking up their clubs for the first time here today.
âDragon Sport Golf provides an excellent opportunity for youngsters to learn golf in a fun and easy-to-understand way. I hope they will see how enjoyable golf can be and will continue to play as we look forward to welcoming the Ryder Cup to Wales in four years time.
âWales has so many budding golf stars coming through the ranks and I only hope that they can inspire Welsh children who want to make their mark in the sport. In fact, Iâm sure Iâve seen some future golfing stars among the children here today!â
Funded by the National Lottery, Dragon Sport offers primary and junior school children sporting opportunities outside PE lessons. With eight sports to choose from â athletics, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rugby and tennis and now golf â Dragon Sport provides the tools that can help transform children into active individuals. At its launch in October 2000, the scheme was billed as the biggest ever recruitment drive in Welsh sport â and it has exceeded all expectations. The initiative has attracted the support of world-renowned athletes such as Colin Jackson, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Nicole Cooke, Gavin Henson and now Woosie himself, as the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government drive to deliver more sport to primary school-age children.
With the development of the course in readiness for 2010 well underway, Woosnam will tomorrow take to the esteemed Roman Road course at the Celtic Manor Resort as he attempts to stake his claim on the Welsh title.
And his impressive back catalogue of successes will see him well placed to lead the charge.
The 48 year-old 1991 Masters Champion has played in eight Ryder Cups and his career achievement of 44 professional tournament victories is more than any other contemporary British golfer. He will also become the third Welshman to lead the European contingent â following in the footsteps of Dai Rees and Brian Huggett - as he steps onto the greens of the K Club in Ireland later this year. It is an impressive CV.
Like the Ryder Cup 2006 teamâs head honcho, Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling would like to see more people undertaking regular exercise and believes we can be inspired by Welsh success on the fairways: âDragon Sport is such a massive success story and we are delighted to be able to work together with Golf Development Wales to make this sport accessible for children of all ages. âThe Dragon Sport programme is just one example of how the Sports Council for Wales is embracing the gauntlet laid down by the Welsh Assembly Governmentâs Health Challenge Wales scheme as we make every effort to deliver an active and healthy Wales, where everyone has the opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity.â To celebrate the launch of the scheme, the Dragon Sport website is offering children the opportunity to win some special prizes. Visit www.dragonsport.co.uk to take part. If you are in primary school and you want to find out more about Dragon Sport opportunities in your area, contact your Dragon Sport Coordinator at your local authority or check out www.dragonsport.co.uk If you are in secondary school or older and would like to find out more about golf opportunities in your area, contact Golf Development Wales on 01633 423798 / www.golfdevelopmentwales.org