‘You can see the potential shining out of them’
Quentin Sherlock Jr has a lot to thank golf for. He grew up playing in Bermuda, representing the island overseas and winning a golf scholarship to Alabama State University where he majored in psychology. The sport has taken him all over the world.
Now he is bringing the game to the children of Ghana.
After a conversation at Achimota Golf Course, he and his friend Nicolo Catto established Ace It Foundation in May 2015, a registered NGO in Ghana. The after-school programme helps middle school students learn English and play golf.
“We help children with their vocabulary development. For most children in Ghana, English is probably the second or third language they learn,” the 37 year old said.
“The area that we’re working in is a rural fishing village with a very low socio-economic standing. They are only exposed to English once they get to school. At home they will speak one or two of the local dialects.”
Mr Sherlock said he has always had the desire to experience Africa. After he and his father visited in 2012, he enrolled in the African Studies programme at the university of Legon where he said he was introduced to the world of NGOs.
His team meet with the students, aged 11-17, four times a week.
“The first session is about 45 minutes, where we introduce them to vocabulary words and play different games to familiarise them with the words and then the second 45 minutes is when we teach them golf,” he explained.
They use SNAG equipment, which stands for starting new at golf — the kits are comprised of plastic oversized clubs, larger, tennis-like balls and Velcro targets — before graduating to real equipment on a real course in nearby Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
The pros at the Celebrity Golf Course like him to bring the children.
“They said it helps to grow the game. Without the young people the game would fritter away. We have access to the course with no charge.”
For a lot of these children, this is the first time that they’re able to get to the city. They live in Gomoa-Fetteh, where Mr Sherlock also calls home.
He enjoys it. “It reminds me of the Dukes of Hazzard,” the 37-year-old said. “They have one local police chief and a few constables that everybody knows. It’s in the bush. The roads aren’t all paved, but at the same time people are still happy and content with what they have or, some people may say, what little they have,”
In turn, he has been learning Twi, the most widely understood of Ghana’s more than 40 languages.
“As we say, ‘kakra, kakra’. It means small, small,” he laughed.
“I’m picking it up here and there and hope to one day become fluent. If you speak Twi, you can be understood wherever you go.”
Mr Sherlock was ten when he started playing golf after being introduced to the game by his teacher at Heron Bay Primary.
He hopes that the sport will also provide further opportunity for his Ghanaian students.
“[It] has helped me tremendously. From a young age I had opportunities to travel. It paid for my undergraduate degree and up until this day golf has continued to open doors for me and create avenues.
“If I didn’t play golf, who knows where I’d be,” he laughed.
“I have a very strong passion for golfing, but realistically, we realise we can make a greater impact helping them through education.
“In Ghana, you have to pay for secondary school, so some won’t get to attend high school. We want to be able to support one or two of them through high school and hopefully — again, idealistically — get them on a golf scholarship so they can study overseas, in the US, through some of my golf contacts.”
He said a key part of his plan is to strengthen a relationship between Bermuda and Ghana.
He has hosted youth football tournaments using donations from Hamilton Parish, Southampton Rangers and the Pro Shop; Necheeka Trott, former dean of liberal arts at the Bermuda College visited the students last year and Darren Burchall led a STEM programme in January. This coming January they will begin their annual internship, inviting a Bermudian to work with them in Ghana for ten weeks.
He hopes to partner with Bermuda College group Men Speak, an all-male forum student organisation at the Bermuda College. The Ed Sherlock and Alanzo Parsons award is named after his great-uncle, legend of the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby, and football star Alanzo Parsons, who died while playing for his college team in Boston last year.
Mr Sherlock coached Alanzo at Southampton Rangers. The first year the award will go to his older brother En’Rikae Parsons.
“We want to create this award in his name to encourage young people to achieve more as young men,” he said.
“I see the same potential in the children here in Ghana as I see in the young people in Bermuda,” added Mr Sherlock, who has taught programmes at the Bermuda College, Sandys Community Centre and CedarBridge.
“[They] show just as much wit and just as much intelligence.
“You can see the potential shining out of them, but as they get older the environment is maybe not stimulating enough for them.
“With golf you learn so much more than just taking a ball into a hole.
“It’s teaching you character development, it’s teaching problem-solving, it’s teaching critical thinking and these are the sorts of things that really help the young people here to move forward in their own development.”
•To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/yy9ssjw or direct deposit: Quinton DeVon Sherlock, Bank of Butterfield: 20 006 060 610642 200