The 10th edition of the All Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) will officially tee off today at the IBB Golf and Country Club, Abuja with Nigeria aiming to end South Africaâ€™s long reign as the continentâ€™s top womenâ€™s golfing nation.
South Africa have won all previous nine editions of the biennial tournament and are favourites yet again to triumph at the end of the championship, which was first held in Harare, Zimbabwe back in 1992.
â€œWe are optimistic that we can dethrone South Africa,â€ Ngozi Osuhor, president of the Ladies Golf Association of Nigeria said. â€œThe South Africans are very good but we believe playing in Abuja will give us an advantage that might work in our favour.â€
Flying Nigeriaâ€™s flag at this yearâ€™s AACT are the quartet of Faith Okoh-Baya, Rachael Danjuma, Amina Wilfred and Diana Okah, and they have been practising at the tournamentâ€™s venue for over a month.
â€œWe have done all that we can to ensure that they prepare well and knowing the course well might just be an advantage for us,â€ Osuhor said.
As many as 17 countries are expected at the AACT with a couple of them already in Abuja for what is the most prestigious event for amateur women golfers in the continent.
Besides the hosts Nigeria, other countries expected to vie for top honours in Abuja include Angola, Botswana, Cote dâ€™Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana and Malawi.
Also on the list are Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Senegal, Swaziland, Sierra Leone and defending champions South Africa.
The Kenyan team, which has been in training for several weeks in Nairobi under the tutelage of top Kenyan professional Rose Naliaka, arrived on Saturday but without 12-year-old golf prodigy Naomi Walufa who picked up an injury.
Tanzania, another team expected for the AACT, left Dar es Salaam for Abuja yesterday. Their counterparts from Botswana also departed for Nigeria yesterday for the championship.
Botswana, will be at the AACT with 15-year-old Ouname Mhotsha who has been playing golf for seven years; the country is bidding to host the 2012 AACT competition and will be using the opportunity of being in Abuja to make their case.
â€œWe have the experience and necessary infrastructure to host a tournament of this magnitude as we proved when we hosted a successful Zone VI tournament recently,â€ said Tiny Kgatlwane, president of the Botswana Ladies Golf Union.
The wife of the Nigerian president Patience Jonathan, and Dora Akunyili, the Minister of Information, are expected to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament. The All Africa Challenge Trophy is sponsored by the Nigerian Breweries Plc, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Sterling Bank, Eko Hotel among others.