Shenzhen, China: Birthday boy Edison Luan Chen stole the show as FootGolf fever continued to gather pace in China.
The talented professional footballer lived up to his top billing as he led his team to victory in the second round of the Mission Hills Footgolf Championship on the day of his 33rd birthday.
A total of 42 two-man teams battled for honours on the historic Jack Nicklaus-designed World Cup Course at Mission Hills, the pioneer and innovator in China’s golf and leisure industry.
Comprising five rounds, the Mission Hills Footgolf Championship will culminate with a Grand Final from which the champions will be presented with the opportunity to compete in the Footgolf World Cup 2016, to be held in Argentina.
Registered in Hong Kong in March, the China Footgolf Federation was officially established by the Mission Hills Group. As Asia’s first footgolf federation it is committed to promoting and developing footgolf in China and the region.
The sport has the same basic rules and concepts as golf, except players kick a football rather than use traditional clubs and golf balls.
“The mere invention of footgolf seems to be a natural progression, given that football and golf have long shared a close relationship,” said Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Tenniel Chu.
“A lot of people are getting involved in the sport – and are loving it. It’s definitely the fun element that attracts people to it.
“Footgolf has proved to be hugely popular with footballers. China has 26 million footballers and 200 million football spectators and fans, the most of any country in the world. It catches such a large demographic, so it is just a question of waiting for the right time to get involved with it.
“I knew it would take off with adults, but we started looking at how the sport could continue to grow and grow. And if you get the youngsters involved you’re going to still be going in 10, 20, 30 years’ time, and you’ll be continuing to build, develop and progress.”
With footgolf continuing to make huge strides both at home and abroad, Chu has high hopes for the sport – sentiments that are echoed by Edison Luan Chen, who formerly starred for Geylang United and Tanjong Pagar United in Singapore’s S. League.
“Footgolf is the same structure as golf, except you are playing with your feet. You still have to include strategy,” said Luan, who carried off the winners’ trophy with his partner Pi Siwei and was presented with a birthday cake at the Awards Ceremony.