by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – HE may be enduring his most frustrating spell ever after the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge robbed him of several potential victories in the international circuit.
However, the camp of global golf prodigy, Simthandile “Sim Tiger” Tshabalala, is not carried away by the prospects of the resumption of the sport locally.
The mixed feelings by the youngster’s manager, father and caddy, Bonginkosi Tshabalala, comes after the government announced that non-contact sports can resume under Alert Level Three of the national lockdown against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
These will resume under strict health measures as confirmed by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, this past weekend.
“It is a great relief but we have to approach it with great caution and keep safe. It will not be the same as before,” Bonginkosi said in an interview with CAJ News.
He spoke of his and the eight-year-old sensation’s frustrations during the two-month lockdown that saw the minor miss out on a number of international tournaments since halted as a result of the pandemic.
Some of the tournaments had been scheduled in some countries that have emerged the epicentre of the virus.
These include the European Championship in Scotland and the Australian Championship in Australia.
“There were a few others in the US,” Tshabalala senior added.
The US is worst affected by COVID-19, with more than 105 000 deaths from over 1,8 million confirmed cases.
Tshabalala disclosed the dissatisfactions of the world-renowned Sim Tiger during the restrictions.
“We are okay, just frustrated that we can’t practice or play. When it comes to golf it’s a bit difficult as one is very limited in practising for a sport like golf at home,” the manager said.
For the younger Tshabalala, the lockdown came as a double blow in that besides the halting of golf, schooling came to a standstill since March.
However, expect him to show no signs of rust likely to be displayed by fellow students as schools gradually open under Level 3.
“School wise he is doing good because he is used to remote learning as we do that when we travel around the world,” the manager said of the Grade 3 learner.
“During the lockdown, my wife is playing an important role in helping him with the school work. His teacher is also very involved remotely,” Tshabalala said.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown came at a time Sim Tiger’s form was peaking.
He came second in his age group in the Australian Open in January.
Also this year, he participated in the 2020 Presidential Golf Challenge, partnering President Cyril Ramaphosa.
MinisterMthethwa conferred on him the Excellence Award at the South African Sports Awards.
The sensation has amassed over 20 trophies since he started playing golf at the age of four.
– CAJ News