Acid test

Challenge Cup big test for local golfersRwanda’s golfers will be in for a big test when this year’s All Africa Challenge Cup tournament gets under-way tomorrow at Namibia’s Windhoek country club resort.

Rwanda’s golfers will be in for a big test when this year’s All Africa Challenge Cup tournament gets under-way tomorrow at Namibia’s Windhoek country club resort.

On  top of competing alongside some of the continent’s finest golfers, local golfers will also have to deal with the heavy tournament schedule.

According to the two-day tournament schedule, golfers will play 72 holes ; 36 holes on day one and a similar number on day two.

This means that for the two days, golfers will play 18-holes in the morning and in the afternoon.

The tournament schedule does not suit Rwandan golfers who are used to playing 18-hole tournaments as the team manager Andrew Nkwandi admits.

“It’s definately a tough tournament but ideal for our boys. Our team is made of young energetic golfers and although they are not used to such tournaments, they can still play up to the end provided they stay focused,’ Nkwandi said before the team’s departure on Friday.

The last time Rwanda took part in this tournament was back in 2004 when the event was staged in Uganda and finished sixth out of the the 12 teams that took part.

Rwanda’s team statistics
Out of the four-man team, Celestin Habineza and Olivier Munyaneza are the most experienced golfers.

Habineza (27) and Munyaneza (24) have been playing for the national team since 2003 and were part of the national side that finished sixth at the 2004 edition in Uganda.

Although the other team members, Jean Baptiste Hakizimana (18) and Ernest Ndayisenga (20) are relatively new faces on the national team but they are being tipped to be the team stars following their fine form in on the local scene.

Hakizimana has enjoyed a wonderful 2007 season after winning three BCR monthly mugs and the prestigious Rwandair Open golf tournament.

Such performaces from an 18-year old have put him at the top of Rwanda’s amatuer golf since february when Emmanuel Ruterana joined the professional ranks.

Like  Hakizimana, Ndayisenga has also had a good year after winning the 2007 Mug of mugs, one of Kigali Golf Club most coveted events and sponsored by BCR.
Cooperate support
Following days of uncertainty on whether the team would trvavel for the event or not, finally, the five-man team (four players and their manager) left Kigali on Friday after receiving last minute support from Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR) and Rwandair Express.

The two corporate companies are said to have covered the team’s $10,000 (about frw5.5million) budget for the trip.

Rwandair Express was the first to come to the team’s rescue by covering the team’s return air tickets to South Africa while BCR footed the team’s accommodation, meals and allowances.

“I extend my sincere gratitude to BCR, Rwandair and Kigali Golf Club who have made this trip a success. Without them, our golfers wouldn’t have been able to travel,” KGC’s president Ezra Bunyenyezi said.

BCR’s financial support to the national team is a clear sign that the bank is ready to continue supporting the sport even after halting its sponsorship to the monthly  tournament initially dubbed ‘BCR monthly mug’.

The tournament starts tomorrow and ends on Wednesday with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya starting as favorites.

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