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1 Jun, 2010 14:37

Golfers raise money for children’s charities

Golf is doing its part to help underprivileged children. The President's Cup of Russia has taken place near Moscow for the 15th year running to celebrate International Children's Day and raise money for kids' charities.

The President's Cup of Russia has become an important part of the country's golfing calendar.

The tournament doesn't feature top golfers from around the world, or even from Russia. But the event, which has been running since 1996, isn't about winning. It's all about taking part, and helping children in need.

“This tournament always takes place on the same day – the last day of May. And there is a reason for this: it’s done to coincide with International Children's Day,” Viktor Liyaskin, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative, commented.

The event would go on to raise $50.000 for charity, but the President's Cup also has another vital purpose – to get more children playing golf.

26 international teams – a mixture of amateurs, businessmen and ambassadors – took part, with each side containing at least one youngster.

16-year-old Maria Volkova, who has already been playing golf for four years and hopes to turn professional, says this tournament is a great way to get more young people interested in playing the sport.

”It was a complete coincidence that I took up golf. When I was at school I had an opportunity to play it. I really liked it and became hooked. And I loved to play golf ever since,” she said.

Golf has yet to take off in Russia as it has done in countries like China and South Korea. A major factor is the lack of courses, which means membership prices remain high.

But if the sport is to truly take off, then more youngsters have to start playing.

“Golf today and around the world is an expensive sport to play – the membership, the upkeep of the course and the equipment. This course [for the President’s Cup], for example, costs around three or four million dollars just to maintain for one year. So it is supported by business people who play a lot of golf, but without having juniors and younger people. Our programs here at this course actually encourage the juniors to play. We have a lot of tournaments for them here,” golf enthusiast Cliff Gauntlett explained.

With golf becoming an Olympic sport in 2016, there is every chance that more and more courses will be built, which will make it easier and cheaper for youngsters to take up the game.

But the President's Cup of Russia will continue to play a vital role, helping children both on and off the golf course.