THE Professional Golf Association of Australia yesterday announced its sponsorship of Fiji's national golf team as part of the organisation's vision for golf in Fiji.
Following on from the announcement that they will stage the inaugural Fiji International at Natadola Bay Golf Course in August 2014, Brian Thorburn, chief executive officer of PGA Australia, confirmed the four-year sponsorship as part of the PGA's promise to help develop the game of golf within Fiji alongside the National Golf Association of Fiji and other local industry groups.
"The Fiji International is about so much more than delivering a world-class golf tournament," said Thorburn, who is in Suva continuing planning for the Fiji International.
"This sponsorship is a great opportunity for the PGA of Australia to directly benefit the game of golf in Fiji and use our knowledge and resources to assist the local golf industry, the general community and the wider Fijian economy.
"The PGA of Australia is renowned worldwide for its history of developing players and coaches at an elite level and we hope this sponsorship will contribute to the Fiji International's legacy within the country."
As part of the sponsorship, PGA Australia will provide financial assistance to the Fijian national team effective immediately and until the end of 2016 as well as provide its members with additional coaching and development opportunities.
"We'll look at how we can complement the team members' development here in Fiji and also look at potential opportunities to bring the team over to Australia and utilise some of our own resources, including our highly respected coaches at the Centre for Learning and Performance at the PGA's Head Office in Melbourne," said Thorburn.
Yesterday, Thorburn met with Amitesh Chandra, secretary of the National Golf Association of Fiji, to make initial arrangements.
"We are grateful for the assistance offered by the PGA of Australia.
"The funding will ensure our team can play in the Nomura Cup, Pan Pacific Games and Asian Amateur for the next four years, and the coaching support will help our National team when they compete internationally," said Chandra.
Thorburn also met three of the four Fiji team members at Natadola Bay Golf Course, the venue for the 2014 Fiji International, who with the PGA's financial support will now travel to the upcoming men's Asia-Pacific Teams Championship in Thailand from November 14-17.
The Fijian national team members include Olaf Allen Jr, Roneel Prakash, Anuresh Chandra and Sam Lee, who is based in the US.
"We were privileged to receive such an overwhelming response from the community following the launch of the Fiji International and we hope this is just one small way that we can give back over the next five years."
Thorburn is in Suva alongside tournament promoter SEL's managing director Basil Scaffidi, who is meeting many of Fiji's business leaders to continue planning for the Fiji International.
"We've already received wonderful support from the Fiji Government through Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and also the local community and we're now focused on ensuring a successful inaugural tournament in August," added Thorburn.
Jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia, the Fiji International will be played for a minimum of US$1 million in August 2014 and is confirmed for a five-year period.
To be staged with the support of the Fiji Government, the Fiji International is expected to deliver substantial economic and tourism benefits to the nation.