When you mention golf in Kenya, it would be a shame not to celebrate Rose Naliaka, for those who don’t know who she is, Rose is the only professional female golfer in Kenya.
In 2006, Rose opened the Rose Naliaka Golf Academy to nurture young talent and encourage and teach young girls from humble backgrounds to take up the sport. We all know the notion that golf is only meant for the rich, corporate business men who actually make some make or break boardroom decisions on the golf course; but an eager 22 year old Naomi Wafula is breaking all those boundaries.
Speaking to me after participating in the recent Magical Kenya Ladies Open staged at the Vipingo Ridge’s PGA Baobab Course from 5th to 8th December 2019 that was powered by Safaricom’s M-PESA, Naomi said that this was yet another sign that she is meant to transform lives just like Rose is.
“I got the interest to play golf and started playing when I was 6 years old. I know, 6 seems a bit too early, but I knew that the golf course was meant for me. But after seeing what Rose did, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d be following in her footsteps.
I was part of the girls who were part of the Rose Naliaka academy and soon after I was competing in tournaments I’ve always dreamed of being in. I was only 12 years old when I joined the Kenya team and I got the chance to represent Kenya in both the junior and lady tournaments. My most memorable awards are the 2011 SOYA Award trophy, the All Africa Challenge (Junior) Trophy (AACT) that I won in Botswana in 2012, and the 2013 JGF (Junior Golf Foundation) Top Girl of the Year and of course participating in two legs of this year’s Safari Tour Series (Royal Nairobi Golf Club & the Great Rift Legs) and the Ladies Open Tour in Vipingo.’
Everything about it was magical
‘Seeing all those sponsors including Safaricom coming together to see us succeed, to see us achieve something so beautiful was more than magical to us. Being on that course with all those pros, taking in all that they did and taught me was an experience I will never take for granted.
It reminded me of the first time I walked on to the golf course. Me, a young girl from Kitale.
I remember how powerful I felt at that moment and I knew that I’d make a difference in a young girl’s life just as Rose did in me, because isn’t that what life is about? Trying to make someone else’s light shine a little brighter?