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New Junior golf festival in Staffordshire
March 11, 2011

A new golf festival this month will mark the culmination of the first stage of a project to give children with special needs the chance to try the sport.

The Special Needs Golf Festival will take place on Friday, March 25th , at Two Rivers High School in Tamworth (11am-2pm) - with Paralympian Mark Fosbrook giving out the prizes.

Up to 100 children are expected to take part after the first phase of a three-year plan to deliver specialist golf coaching across the county.

Twelve schools in the Staffordshire area have taken part this year, with the aim of adding new schools over the remainder of the programme.

Schools from Wolverhampton, Stafford, Cannock, Stoke, Tamworth, Burton, Lichfield and Leek have been involved in the scheme.

Children are encouraged to take part in sessions of Tri Golf, aimed at primary school pupils, and Xtreme Golf, for the secondary school age group.

The festival will bring together as many of the children who have received coaching as possible to take part in competitions and games based on the skills they have learnt.

All the children who have taken part in the coaching sessions will receive a certificate at the prize-giving.

Mark Fosbrook competed at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta as part of the volleyball squad and was team manager for the wheelchair rugby squad in Beijing in 2008. He is now aiming to take part in the London Paralympics next year as part of the Great Britain wheelchair basketball squad.

He works as the Aiming High Disability Sport and Physical Activity Development Officer for Sport Across Staffordshire.

The coaching sessions have been delivered by Craig Thomas (The Golf Academy) and Jon Watts (Brocton Golf Club). Staffordshire County Academy Head Coach Fred Fern (Leek GC) will also be at the festival.

Explained Craig: "We have been delivering sessions in the schools to children with a range of special needs, from physical or mental disabilities to those with behavioural, emotional or communication problems.

"They have been taking part with children of a similar ability or level and it also provides an opportunity for children who may not be able to take part in sports like football or tennis to get involved.

"It has had a very positive impact for those taking part and staff at the schools have also continued the sessions while one hour coaching sessions are also available at Cannock Park Golf Club on a Saturday morning for those who want to keep up their interest in golf.

"The festival is a chance to bring everyone together to enjoy the day, while if there are any children with a particular talent for golf we are able to offer them support to continue their interest outside school hours."

Sean Hammill, county golf development officer for the Staffordshire Golf Partnership, said: "Golf is a sport that can be played and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities and this scheme has provided opportunities to children to try something that they may continue with in the future."

The scheme is one of a number of projects aimed at increasing participation in golf run under the umbrella of the Staffordshire Golf Partnership.

This is a collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the sport including the English Golf Union, The English Women's Golf Association, the PGA, the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

In Staffordshire the partnership is supported by the Staffordshire Ladies County Golf Association, the Staffordshire Union of Golf Clubs and the Staffordshire PGA.

For more details of the activities in Staffordshire visit .

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