Saturday, April 1, 2023

Is this Nigerian teen the next women’s golf prodigy?

“(My father) was pretty surprised by my question,” she stated. “He asked me if I really wanted to play this sport and I said, ‘yes,’ and he got me a coach and I started playing golf.”

The relaxation was historical past.

Essien entered her first competitors the identical 12 months and proved to be a pure, inserting first in her age group. “I found that really cool,” she stated.

By age 11, the golfer was representing Nigeria at worldwide competitions throughout the US, UK, and Africa together with Morocco, Botswana, and South Africa. Now 16, she is the No.1 ranked junior women’ golfer in Nigeria and has received greater than a dozen trophies after inserting in varied competitions.
Essien represented Nigeria at the R&A Junior Open in Monifieth, Scotland.

“I’m really proud of representing my country because I’m making a name for myself and for my country,” she stated.

In late July, Essien clinched second place within the Under 19 Girls division on the Champion of Champions World Championship in Northern Ireland. “It was a really good experience for me,” she stated. Finishing 5 strokes behind first, Essein says she is pleased with how she performed.

“Everything happens for a reason — even though you come second or third, it means that you’re getting closer and closer to first,” she stated, noting the expertise of enjoying on a world-renowned course was a win in itself. “The fact that I could play on the same course as Rory Mcllroy played on and be in the same vicinity of all that history was really very important to me.”

As she continues to make a reputation for herself and her nation, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is taking discover. Following the event, the president’s adviser launched an announcement saying Buhari, “joins all Nigerians in celebrating this great teenager who is doing so much for the country.”

“It was really unexpected, and I appreciate it,” Essien advised CNN in response.

Following her desires

Time and time once more, Essien has confirmed she is not afraid of a problem. While she usually finds herself competing in opposition to older gamers, she says it really “gives me even more motivation just to do better.”

She says her positivity and drive is impressed by one among her best function fashions, Tiger Woods.

“He has shown a lot of resilience in the game,” she stated, noting his efforts to push by means of a sequence of accidents and profession setbacks. “He just keeps playing golf and he really loves the sport, even though he’s not winning.”

Essien just isn’t the primary Nigerian golfer to need to look elsewhere for function fashions. Georgia Ohoh, the primary Nigerian to play within the Ladies European Tour, beforehand advised CNN she needed to flip to tennis to search out inspirational athletes.
That’s partially as a result of golf is way from the preferred sport in Nigeria. According to the Nigerian Golf Federation, there are solely 58 courses within the nation. In 2012, it was estimated there have been solely about 200,000 golfers out of a inhabitants of than 200 million folks (by comparability, greater than 25 million Americans performed golf that very same 12 months).

Essien says the absence of a extra established {golfing} program has been difficult, notably relating to financing.

She says her household has been “instrumental” in funding her profession, however it’s been a “struggle” and believes, “if I had a huge pot to work with, I would have done more competitions over the years than I did and won more trophies.”

Wanting to pursue extra alternatives, Essien, who was born within the state of New York however raised in Nigeria, moved again to the US in 2021 to enroll within the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut.

Essien attended the British Open to watch her role model, Tiger Woods, compete in the tournament.

“The competition is high (in the US),” Essien stated. On a mean day, {the teenager} says she sometimes practices for 3 hours after class, and it may be troublesome to navigate the fragile dance between pursuing an expert profession and being an “average” teen.

“Sometimes I actually really want to go hang out my friends and just relax and be a teenager basically. But there are also priorities. I have to remember that if I want to be in a higher place in golf or in school then I have to put in the time in the work,” she stated.

Inspiring the subsequent technology

In addition to changing into a golf professional, Essien needs to pursue a level in engineering with a specialization in synthetic intelligence.

“I hope to get a golf scholarship to a (top) university… and if it becomes possible, I hope to play in the LPGA,” she stated.

With a budding profession forward, she additionally hopes to pave the way in which for different Nigerians for observe in her footsteps.

“I hope my achievements and where I am right now in golf can actually motivate Nigerians who want to play golf,” she stated, leaving aspiring golfers with this piece of recommendation: “work hard and keep a good mentality because everything happens for a reason and in due time, everything will go your way.”

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