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Senegalese golfer playing, beating most men

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When Oumou Dieye started competing against men in the sport of golf, she was not confident. She said she was a little scared.

And she said men didn’t want to play golf with her and didn’t take her seriously.

But then she won her first game.

After that, she had all the confidence she needed to keep playing and beating the male golfers.

Dieye is the only professional golfer in Senegal. She competes almost exclusively against men. As she walks around the golf course in Saly, Senegal, she chats with other golfers, all of whom are men.

“Now I (am) used to playing with men. I train morning, noon and night. I’m in the Gym three or four times a week,” she said. “So that also gives me…confidence.”

Dieye became a professional player seven years ago. This means that she is paid to participate in this sport. She has won numerous competitions, notably in Thailand, Kenya and South Africa.

She was introduced to golf by her brother-in-law and immediately fell in love with it.

“Golf is a complete sport,” she said. “You walk, you think and you focus. And it’s also physical.

Shortly after starting competition, Dieye had the chance to train in Morocco. With financial support from her French golf partners in Saly, she spent three months training with the Moroccan Golf Federation.

She said she enjoyed the experience so much that she returned to Morocco and stayed there for seven years. While there, she also taught children at a golf school.

Today, his home is filled with numerous golf awards. She has won so many that she does not know the exact number. Or in other words, she says she’s lost track.

What she did is remarkable because Senegal is a conservative and Muslim nation. Observers say there is societal pressure for women not to be involved in professional sports.

More than 95% of Senegalese are Muslims. The country practices a more liberal Islam. However, the culture still has traditional ideas about what women should do. A woman who chooses sport over her homework risks being rejected by her family.

“When you (are) Muslim, you prefer to keep the girls at home, find them a husband and make them a housewife,” she says.

At first, her family did not support her. But after seeing his love of the sport, they changed their minds. They allowed him to leave Dakar to live with his brother-in-law near the golf field in Saly.

Today, Dieye lives with her four children and her husband. Not only does he play golf with her, but he often carries her golf gear for her.

In 2018, when Dieye returned from Morocco, she was unhappy with the state of golf in her home country. She wanted to create a golf school similar to the one in Morocco.

“To develop golf, we must focus on children,” she said.

The Senegalese Golf Federation was founded in 1991. There are now around 30 professional players across the country. But the band doesn’t have a lot of money. There are also only two golf courses in the country.

In 2020, the federation agreed to help Dieye establish a golf school in preparation for the 2026 Summer Youth Olympics in Dakar. These will be the first Olympic Games of any kind to be held in Africa. The 2022 Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will be Dieye’s job to form Senegal’s first national golf team. This will involve grooming female golfers – including her own daughter.

The president of the Senegalese Golf Federation is Baidy Agne. He said the federation is “prepared and engaged» to accompany the girls in their training on an equal basis with the boys.

Women make up the majority of the population in Senegal, Agne added, and they must not be left behind. “Oumou can be a very good model for these girls,” he said.

Oumou Dieye says she hopes to find a sponsor so she can continue to compete internationally and bring the next generation of female Senegalese golfers to the world.

I am Anna Matteo.

Annika Hammerschlag brought this story from Sali, Senegal. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

confident -not. a feeling that you can do something and be successful

Gym (gymnasium) -not. a hall or building that has equipment for sports activities

focus -v. to focus on something

golf field -not. an area of ​​land where golf is played

focus -v. to direct attention towards or on something

model -not. a person others look up to and want to be like

engaged –adj. willing to give their time and energy to something