‘HSBC Future Lions,’ the country’s first golf grass root program which was conducted across Sri Lanka, witnessed the completion of the first phase of the program reaching its second consecutive year.
The program, launched in 2017, was primarily to scout for golf talent across Sri Lanka with the aim of spreading golf among rural communities who can now boast of having golf courses in their own backyard. In 2018, the program saw the addition of three new golf courses in Sri Lanka, namely, Eagles Golf Links – Trincomalee, the Army Golf Course in Diyatalawa and The Shangri-La Golf Resort and Spa in Hambantota.
Providing an opportunity to kids who reside in the neighborhood of these golf courses are of paramount importance to enable activation of the sport and was a key objective of both Sri Lanka Golf and HSBC. Further supporting Sri Lanka Golf with both funding and golf equipment, The R&A (Royal and Ancient) has shown interest in supporting this program in Sri Lanka where golf is in its infancy as an inclusive sport.
Sri Lanka Golf in partnership with HSBC embarked on a talent search from grass root level through the Future Lions program covering the island from north to south. Launched in 2017, to date have netted over 650 children and selected over 300 for advanced training. The next phase scheduled to begin in September is expected to reach another 300 children, said Sri Lanka Golf Secretary Nishan Navaratne.
In its second year, ‘HSBC Future Lions’ took to the road that drew over 365 children in phase from Trincomalee which saw the participation of Koneshwara Hindu College, Greenwich International School, St. Joseph’s College, Orr’s Hill Vivekananda College and St. Mary’s College.
In Diyatalawa both Diyatalawa Madya Maha Vidyalaya and Kadurugamuwa Mihindu Vidyalaya took part supported by Sri Lanka Army Golf. It was Dehigahalanda Maha Vidyala Ambalantota and Therapuththa Maha Vidyalaya that were invited by Shangri-La Golf Resort and Spa in Hambantota to conduct the same program designed by Sri Lanka Golf.
HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives Chief Executive Officer Mark Prothero stated: “We were delighted to initiate Sri Lanka’s inaugural junior golf grass root program (HSBC Future Lions) in partnership with Sri Lanka Golf in 2017. It is encouraging to see that this year, we have over 360 children just from three locations of phase one. The Sri Lanka Junior International Golf Championships in 2018 which recorded over 110 junior golfers included golf talent discovered from locations activated in 2017 and even from unlikely places like Kilinochchi in the north. Our intention is that we have more children from the three new locations participating in the event in 2019.”
He added: “HSBC as a global supporter of golf will continue to support the Sri Lanka junior golf grass root program – HSBC Future Lions together with Sri Lanka Golf.”
“The drive and skill sets possessed by the kids were exemplary. I have no doubt that if this program is nurtured and carried forward, we will produce the word beaters that we imagined we would at the outset,” said Dirk Flamer Caldera, a member of the ‘Future Lions’ organising sub-committee.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa General Manager Moshi Perera said: “It has been a truly heartening experience for my team and me to be a part of HSBC Future Lions, the golf grass root program by SLGU. It is our vision to develop golf as a key sport in Sri Lanka, and what better way than engaging youth from Hambantota itself.”
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa is Sri Lanka’s only golf resort with a par 70, 18-hole golf course, set amidst a vast coconut plantation and offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
The aim of HSBC and Sri Lanka Golf will now draw up plans to set up three new academies where top players will participate in the 2019 HSBC Junior International Tournament. From a total of 365 juniors the grass root program was able to select 250 kids to develop from all three locations for further advanced training and to produce future champions in their respective academies.
Sri Lanka Golf will form golf academies in all three locations and conduct lessons by qualified Instructors once a week, under the supervision of Sri Lanka Golf. The program has now created eight golf academies that hatched through HSBC ‘Future Lions’ in 2017 and now three fully-fledged golf academies.