Game keeps kids on right track
BY ELYSE AMEND
After 13 years of offering the Future Links program for youth, Golf Dorval general manager Maurice Dagenais is convinced more than ever that getting children interested in sports at an early age will help keep them out of trouble later on. “We’ve had a lot of kids that started young and come back in their 20s [to play],” said Dagenais, who was honoured for his involvement in the Future Links program at a luncheon late last month.
Since 1996, Future Links programs at golf courses across Canada have provided over 83,000 kids who normally would not have had access to golf the opportunity to learn new skills and play the game.
Every year, about 300 West Island kids between seven and 12 years old sign up to take part in the program at Golf Dorval, which is run over four days in July and costs $10. This year’s edition came to an end July 20. “In our first year in 1995 we had about 50 kids,” Dagenais said, adding he had to stop publicizing the program in the media because demand grew too high. “It’s a great program. It’s super to see them, just to see the smile on their faces...it’s just unfortunate that not more golf clubs are doing it.”
During the four workshop days, participants are taught the techniques, rules, and etiquette of golf, leading up to a one-hole game at the end. The kids also take part in picnics and receive various gifts along the way, including a certificate of achievement and their very own golf club.
Dagenais also pointed out that over the last 13 years it has taken the help of about 800 volunteers to run the program. “It’s a big program and you need help. You can’t do it on your own,” Dagenais said.
The Montreal Police have also gotten on board the Future Links program in past years because of the positive messages it embodies. “Sports come with etiquette. Especially golf,” said Lt. Rosario Ioanna, coordinator of
the western Montreal street-gang unit. Ioanna, who has been volunteering with Future Links for the past five years, said the best way to keep children out of trouble and on the right track is to get them involved in sports, the community, and other activities early on. “Sometimes, it’s just that they fall into the wrong crowd,” Ioanna said. “You can have different types of gangs. Here (at Future Links) I tell them, you’re in the right gang.”