Meet Simthandile Tshabalala
Simthandile Tshabalala, nicknamed “Sim Tiger” is an 8 year old golfer from Johannesburg, South Africa. Sim’s father, Bonginkosi Tshabalala, who grew up without a father figure, decided he wanted different for his child. This made him start taking the then 2 year old Sim for tennis lessons, soccer coaching, swimming and cricket lessons. The aim was to open up the young child to various opportunities thus enabling him to explore his talent from a young age.
However, it was only after the boy turned 4 that his father, now a caddie, took him to the golf driving range and began training him in golf. Additionally, Simthandile Tshabalala, learned some more on playing golf by watching You Tube videos. This is not an isolated case with celebrated Kenyan Javelin thrower, Julius Yego, also admitting to learning how to throw from You Tube videos.
Playing Professionally, Awards and Tournaments won
In 2018, the young golfer at age 6, officially began competing. Through out his career, his father had been funding him until he eventually got a professional coach and sponsor, TaylorMade. Since then, Tshabalala has won over 20 trophies in various international tournaments. His father accompanies him to all tournaments acting as his caddie.
In November 2019, he was awarded the Sports Minister’s Excellence Award at the SA Sport Awards. Subsequently in January 2020, he came second in his age group in the Australia Open 2020. Earlier in 2019, he had also been named among the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans. Furthermore, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa openly mused that he was “South Africa’s future Tiger Woods.”
Indeed, Tshabalala and Tiger Woods have much in common. Like Tshabalala, Woods was introduced to golf by his father as a young child. By the time he was 6, his prowess was quite evident and he was already winning tournaments.
Balancing School with Golf
Tshabalala’s father points out that his son’s school has been supportive. As a result of his frequent travels to play, the school always ensures that he is not behind in his studies. How they achieve this is by working according to his schedule. The young Tshabalala practices golf every day after school until 6 pm. One day is set aside every week for him to play golf with his friends. The elder Tshabalala has also sat him down to explain to him that despite his success in golf, he still remains a child.
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Johannesburg, South Africa
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