TWELVE-YEAR-OLD golfing prodigy Fatima Hussain Abdullhadi Albunni, who has made waves on the local circuit after a string of excellent performances in age-level competitions, has her sights set on one definitive goal: becoming Bahrain’s first female professional golfer.
The eldest of three siblings, Fatima’s golfing journey began without her knowledge four years ago when her mother saw a newspaper advertisement by the Bahrain Golf Association (BGA), inviting young girls and boys to join the BGA’s Junior Development Programme (JDP).
“Mum didn’t even tell me before she went and registered my name in the JDP,” Fatima told the GDN in an exclusive interview, laughing as she recounted how mystified she was when she found out.
“But I’m glad she did! I was only eight then and just had a very cursory understanding of golf. But now, after four years of learning and playing the game, I want to go on and become the first female professional golfer from the kingdom.”
Mum Eman Hameed Alzaimoor said she took the initiative after gaining the impression from the JDP advertisement that the BGA was looking to form a women’s team of the future by training young female players who signed up for the programme.
“I remember there were nine girls in that first batch, all Fatima’s age,” Alzaimoor told the GDN.
“And I’m so happy I made that move because Fatima really took to the game and she’s done wonderfully well in her first few competitions over the past year-and-a-half.”
Tutored by national team coach Gabriel Sota at the Royal Golf Club (RGC) where she practices for two hours every day, Fatima took part in her very first age-level tournament early last year and easily walked away with the winner’s trophy.
“It was a good feeling to win the first tournament I ever participated in,” Fatima said, modestly. “Especially since I was competing with boys as well as girls in that Under-10 competition.”
Alzaimoor said she and her husband, Hussain Abdullhadi Albunni, were overjoyed as their daughter’s name was announced as the winner.
“We were absolutely over the moon,” she said. “We felt so proud – and our child has gone on and made us prouder still by doing so well in every subsequent tournament she has taken part in.”
Fatima’s obvious talent and potential has also drawn praise from BGA vice president Daij Khalifa, who praised the young golfer’s training ethic and commitment to the sport.
“Fatima is very keen to learn more about the game and, when she joined the JDP, she was always at the practice range working on her game,” Khalifa said.
“She is committed to her coaching lessons and works hard on all aspects to enhance her game, as advised by the national team coach.
“Fatima has improved dramatically over the last couple of years and her performance in the first ever competition she played showed that when she shot an impressive nett score of 61 at the RGC from the Red Tees.”
The grade seven student has displayed remarkable consistency since that debut competition triumph as she has either won, or placed second in, every tournament she has played in the last year and a half.
“It’s fun to play this game and even better when I do well,” Fatima explained. “The more I play, the more I learn about myself and the sport. And I want to be the best player that I can be.”
Along with being a highly touted young golfer, Fatima is also a very good student at Um Kulthoom Intermediate Girls School and eventually wants to study for a degree in mathematics.
“I want to be a professional golfer but I also want to be a math teacher,” she explained.
“And most people don’t know that golf, math and science are inextricably linked.”
Away from golf and school, Fatima likes listening to Billie Eilish, the 21-year-old Grammy- and Oscar-winning American singer-songwriter.
“Her music is my type,” she said. “Because of her, I also wanted to start learning the guitar but golf, now, takes up all my time. Maybe I will take the guitar up at some point in the future.”
For now, Fatima added, she just wanted to balance her time between her studies and golf.
“Interestingly,” she laughed, “since Mum is my permanent chaperone to every practice session and tournament, she’s tried her hand at the game too. And she’s actually pretty good and getting better as she practices more.
“I’m so grateful to her and to my father for being so supportive. I’m also very grateful to the BGA for accepting me into the JDP fold and can’t wait to repay the faith they’ve shown in me by eventually turning pro and winning international accolades for Bahrain.”