As Edna Huys has come out of her shell as a person and golfer so she has installed herself as an exciting young talent within the South African Disabled Golf Association, much to the delight of Dominican School For Deaf Children teacher Carmen Oostenbrink. Huys has been a part of the SADGA’s First Swing Program since 2016 and has come a long since then as Oostenbrink attests.

“From the shy little girl who didn’t know how to hold the club to where she is now, she’s a lot more confident and the way she approaches people now, it’s been amazing to see the progress Edna has made through the years,” comments Oostenbrink. Sometimes others help you unlock the confidence that lies within. In 2018 at the Canon SA National Deaf Junior Interschools tournament, Huys wasn’t playing the golf she knew she was capable of but some words of encouragement from FSP coach Charles Williams gave Huys a confidence boost and helped elevate her game “In 2018 at the Deaf Junior Interschools I felt like a failure but Charles encouraged me and asked me to play a little bit more,” says Huys.

“Through his encouragement I have done so much better the last couple of years.”

For the once-shy Huys, playing with Deaf golfers from different regions is now something shethoroughly enjoys.
“I enjoy socialising with Deaf people, helping each other with our games and seeing golfers who are better than me and others who maybe aren’t as good. “It’s also nice learning how people from the different regions sign, sharing our experiences with each other — the best times we have are often with people that we don’t know.”

The installation of an outdoor net at Dominican has not only aided Huys’ development as a player but allowed her helpful and sociable nature to shine through brilliantly.

For young girls making their way in the game of golf, Oostenbrink believes that the First Swing Program instills in them the belief that they can give their male counterparts a run for their money.

“I think the most beneficial aspect of the FSP for the female players is being able to compete with the boys without feeling like they aren’t strong enough but that they can actually compete with them and there’s actual competition between them.”

Yet Oostenbrink says the growth that Huys and other golfers have enjoyed through the SADGA’s First Swing Program goes far beyond the confines of the golf course. “I think many of these kids wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunities they’ve received through SADGA: Flying in an aeroplane for the first time; seeing their faces and having to calm them down; staying in a hotel for the first time; being able to meet famous golfers; these are all amazing life experiences that I think are so beautiful.”

“It’s been nice to teach other kids how to play golf and how to hit the ball so I teach them how to play a little bit and to try their best.”

Oostenbrink for her part is an integral part of the Dominican FSP success story and a valued member of the SADGA team. Born to Deaf parents, Carmen speaks South African Sign Language, English and Afrikaans.
While at De La Bat School in Worcester, Carmen began as SADGA’s interpreter in 2015 and has used her lingual gifts to bridge the gap between the hearing and Deaf worlds.

From tournament prize-givings to coaches workshops, Carmen can be counted on to make any SADGA event more inclusive and interactive for all involved.

“It means a lot to me to be a bridge between the Deaf and the hearing worlds. It’s so nice that just through some signs, being the Deaf’s ears and hearing people’s hands, communication is immediately opened between the two,” she says.

”It’s quite nice to see how the stigma attached to being Deaf actually disappears when there is someone who can interpret

For more information on the South African Disabled Golf Association, please visit www.sadga.co.za