Golf and conservation at Ugandan academy

Growing Golf
The AFRIYEA Golf Academy, Uganda

Isaiah Mwesige is on a two-pronged mission to improve the lives and prospects of children in Uganda; by putting a golf club in their hands and educating them about the importance of environmental conservation.

In 2020 he set up AFRIYEA Golf Academy in Fort Portal, a city of around 61,000 people in the west of Uganda, to offer free golf tuition, basic education and life skills to the region’s most vulnerable young people.

Having started his working life as a caddie at the local golf club at the age of 14, Isaiah wanted to give others the same opportunities golf has afforded him.

“I was hard-working and ambitious, and I went from doing odd jobs at The Toro Club to looking after course maintenance and studying for agronomy qualifications,” he says.

“I gained a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and a diploma in Agroforestry from the National Forestry School. Golf has given me this life and I want others to experience the same benefits.

A student from the AFRIYEA Golf Academy plants a tree

“However, golf is a very slow-growing sport in Africa and particularly Uganda. Only about 0.002% of the 43 million population play it, and they are mostly rich and white. So there’s huge potential to grow the game and I want to help that happen.”

At the end of 2022, more than 1,000 children had been introduced to golf at the Academy, which also founded the ‘Kids Connect’ golf tournament – a tournament for anyone between the ages of four and 18, regardless of ability. It gives the young people an opportunity to meet others, establish friendships and share experiences.

If golf is Isaiah’s number one passion, environmental work is his second, and conservation is a core value at the AFRIYEA Academy.

Recent initiatives have included collecting plastic rubbish, de-silting the River Mpanga and planting trees – all of which contributed to the Academy winning the Special Recognition Award at the 2023 Golf Environment Awards.

The AFRIYEA Golf Academy clearing rubbish

“I’m passionate about creating positive change and educating others so that our planet is looked after better, not just for this generation but for more generations to come,” continues Isaiah.

“I also want to encourage golf clubs in Uganda to give more thought to environmental concerns. Even things like planting a tree – you need to know what type of trees are best where.

“We are trying to change that so not only is sport enjoyed by many more people in Uganda but done so responsibly.”

A second AFRIYEA Academy has recently opened 450 miles away at Masindi Golf Club, and later this year another will launch at Morogoro Golf Club in neighbouring Tanzania.