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Port of East London’s golf prodigy turns pro

Jun 7, 2019
Port of East London’s golf prodigy turns pro

East London - Lwazi Gqira, the 26-year old golf sensation from Duncan Village, has earned another feather in his cap by turning pro just two years after he was ranked number 1 in the Border region and 54 in South Africa.

Gqira’s potential caught the attention of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of East London several years ago and he was taken under TNPA’s wing with a partnership to pursue his golfing dream of turning professional, under the watchful eye of his coach, Michelle De Vries. This dream has now been realised and he is playing on the Sunshine/Big Easy IGT Tour throughout Africa.

East London Port Manager, Sharon Sijako, said the TNPA family was extremely proud of the young man’s achievements.

“Lwazi has shown us all what can be achieved with a strong support system and we’re so thrilled to have been able to play a role in his ongoing development leading up to this latest milestone of turning professional. His transformation has been phenomenal. We’ve seen him grow from a shy young man living in extreme poverty in a shack in Duncan Village, to a well-respected young man in his community and among the golfing fraternity around the country. He is an inspiration to so many, including all of us at the Port of East London,” she said.

A highlight for the TNPA-sponsored golfer was scooping a coveted spot in the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation golf program.  His three year stint with the Foundation added invaluable support to his development.  Founded in 1999, the Foundation identifies and assists young talented individuals predominantly from families of limited resources and provides educational assistance and playing opportunities in order to produce successful young leaders to reach their full potential.

Lwazi also represented the Border men’s side and made the SA Development side to play against Scotland and South African in Johannesburg in 2017.

TNPA’s support to the shining star has included coaching lessons and mentoring, supply of golfing equipment, clothing, transport, accommodation and participation in golfing tournaments. The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation afforded him the opportunity to participate in monthly national tournaments throughout the country, competing alongside other top South African amateur golfers.

TNPA invested in Lwazi’s education at both the East London Technical College and Master Artisans Academy

In addition to sponsoring his coaching, TNPA invested in Lwazi’s education at both the East London Technical College and Master Artisans Academy where he succeeded in obtaining a welding qualification.

Coach de Vries, a golfing professional herself with 30 years of coaching experience, said: “Lwazi certainly deserves all his accolades thanks to his maturity and solid work ethic, but TNPA’s investment in this young man over the past few years has given him the leg-up that he needed to truly reach his full potential. It has been a remarkable partnership.”

Of his latest achievement, the wunderkind said: “I would like to thank Transnet for the tremendous support that they have given me from the outset. You changed my life, without you I wouldn’t be where I am today and I promise to grab this opportunity with both hands and make the most out of it.”

He said life as a professional had been exciting so far, although it came with challenges due to the competition at this level.

“I am learning every day and with TNPA’s support I know I can become very successful. I would like to thank Michelle De Vries, my coach who introduced me to this game. Without her I would not be where I am today. I also want to thank the South African Golf Development Board and the Ernie Els Fancourt Foundation for the role they have played in my golfing career,” he added.

“Last but not least my family and friends especially Nkosinathi Dauwa who were there from day one. Without you maybe I would have quit golf a long time ago. Together I know we can achieve great things.”

To follow Lwazi on his professional journey go to: www.sunshinetour.com.

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