The Chairman of the International Sports Promotion Society and an advocate for blind golf, Dr Haruhisa Handa is making a strong pitch for the game to be included in the 2020 or 2024 Paralympics.
The Japanese philanthropist, who is regarded the world over as the Father of Blind Golf, was at the Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap over the weekend, marking his visit to the ISPS supported Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic tournament by presiding over a clinic for the disabled.
“The staging of international events such as this week’s inaugural Cambodian Classic on the Asian Tour is to lend support for golf to be included in the Paralympic Games,” Dr Handa declared in an interview with the Asian Tour.
“I came to Cambodia and decided to start this tournament at such a lovely golf course and collaborate with Nick Faldo. He was happy to help promote the disabled players.”
Dr Handa’s organisation also sponsors the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour as well as other major events on the European Tour, European Senior Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Golf Australia and the Ladies Tours.
He has established associations in 15 countries, with nearly 250 blind golfers playing the game actively.
“I met an interesting man, Ron Anderson, who is from Perth, 23 years ago. His eyesight was only five per cent. I played golf with him and he played 60 and I played 75 in nine holes. He was very optimistic and had good skills. Then I got involved with many projects to help blind golfers,” Dr Handa recalled in the interview.
“I established the Blind Golf Association in Japan and asked my coach to teach blind people to play golf. I want to encourage the handicapped people to play golf, just as ordinary folks.
“The world blind golf champion can hit a gross score of 83 or 84, he’s totally blind. The record is gross 74. I want to do this to enhance their quality of life,” he said.
Dr Handa and the ISPS have also launched an initiative in the United Kingdom with the PGA called the ISPS PGA Academy Programme, which will see PGA coaches deliver a thousand golf lessons to blind and disabled golfers in 2012.
“Seventeen years ago, I launched projects for underprivileged people in Cambodia. We have provided medical treatment for 1.2 million people free of charge and established orphanages for some 300 children and provided education opportunity as well through the University of Cambodia, which is now top three in the country,” said Dr Handa.
“We have subsequently established the Handa Foundation to help the underprivileged as well as promote golf. I believe that golf can help save the underprivileged people.”