Concerted efforts are being made to promote Cyprus junior golf, both at home and abroad, according to officials.
Phanos Pitiris, the commercial manager of the Cyprus Golf Federation’s Junior Committee, told the Cyprus Mail that over the last few years more and more is being done to encourage both boys and girls to take up the sport.
“Our team has just participated at the Malta Junior Open for the first time and had a great time. We want to raise the profile of junior golf and we can achieve this by taking a national team to competitions abroad, it is an Olympic sport after all,” he said.
Pitiris said that in the future, Cyprus would like to enter the Olympic golf competition, but pointed out that at present, rules state participants have to be professional
“That may change in the future , which would be good but in the meantime, our objective is to enter different European competitions , as well as other worldwide events.”
Pitiris’ son, Nikolas, 15, is currently the Cyprus national junior golf team U18 Captain.
In 2010, then eight-year-old Nikolas, became the first Cypriot to participate at the US Kids Golf World Championship. It is the largest and most prestigious event in the world for boys and girls aged 12 years old and under.
In April, the juniors travelled to Malta to compete, and the teenager’s team also consisted of Tate Dodson, Theodoros Michael, Andreas Baltsoukos, Michael Prodromou and Hector Menelaou, who are all aged between 12 -15.
“We have had girls on the team which play abroad in the past, but we haven’t got any at the moment as they have grown up. We would love at least one girl,” said Pitiris.
The official delegation was led by the Cyprus Golf Federation’s director for junior golf, Terry Holt. Many of the juniors’ parents were also on the trip.
Holt said: “Junior golfers from 11 European nations were there for the competition, with Germany leading the way with 15 players. We wanted to provide international tournament experience to the national junior squad.”
The Malta Junior Open is a three-day event over 54 holes and is part of the junior calendar of the European Golf Association. It is played in an individual medal stroke play format.
Seventeen-year-old Marco Rossrucker from Germany finished top of the leaderboard and the top ranked junior from Cyprus was captain Nikolas Pitiris who finished 24th.
Theodoros Michael and Tate Dodson were the second and third ranked Cyprus players respectively.
Holt said that as well as promoting Cyprus junior golf, the trip also aimed to raise awareness for next year’s N Severis Cyprus International Youth Open, which he said is the flagship junior competition of the Cyprus Golf Federation.
Holt said: “We also received very positive feedback about our team including the players’ excellent conduct both on and off the course, as well as comments regarding the teams’ uniforms.”
The Cyprus junior team has a busy year ahead; in June they will host the annual Friendship Cup between Cyprus and Greece and in August they will spend a week in the UK completing training and entering competitions.
At the end of August, they will also travel to Greece for the Hellenic International Junior Golf Championship and in October they will be in Israel to participate in the Israel Junior Open.
However, these expenditures need funding, said Phanos Pitiris and they are aiming to raise around 20,000 euros to support the team.
“We have managed to raise around 4,000 euros so far from companies and sponsorships, the money will be used to enable the team to travel abroad and participate in different training programmes.”
Packages to support the Cyprus team start from 250 euros.
“We would really like the public’s help with our campaign and any funding is greatly appreciated to help these kids realise their dreams and goals,” he said.
The team are also always on the lookout for new players, and any children wishing to take up golf should get their parents to contact one of the junior academies, as this is the correct route to take, he suggested.
For further information: www.juniors.cgf.org.cy or 99 374816