'Golf is for every social level' - Angola's golf champion breaks down stereotypes
Victor Marcal could never have imagined what he would become. Taking to the course with Manuel Pedro, a renowned coach known as the ‘Father of Angolan Golf’, is a far cry from his humble beginnings. When he was a boy, he would watch other golfers from afar and retrieve their balls.
Victor Marcal, affectionately known as Manucho, honed his skills and was coached by Manuel Pedro, but there were also others who incited him to get involved.
"They started asking us: ‘do you want to learn to play too?’ We said, ‘yes, we want to learn.’ Take a swing, they said. We took a swing and that’s where it all started", he tells us. They were a French couple who took Victor under their wing. They helped him to learn golf and they even gave him some equipment.
As his interest and confidence in the sport grew, Victor and others became caddies. That's how he ended up in front of the very same man he plays with today, Manuel Pedro. That's also when he came to be known as Manucho.
Manuel Pedro, the ‘Father of Angolan Golf' says that they gave Manucho and others the opportunity to start competing. They first started in caddy tournaments and then in caddy and player tournaments. That's when they began training with players. "It was at this time that Manucho stood out, plus some other kids, but Manucho was the number one among the outstanding. So, it was then that Manucho became known", he adds.
Now a national champion, Manucho recalls the early days of starting out. At the beginning, in Luanda, he had no equipment and was forced to improvise. He would use a rod for his club and bend the ends. He also used corks and lids from wine bottles as golf balls as he didn't have any of those either. That's how he practiced as a child.
His dedication and perseverance paid off. Now 38, Manucho has more than 60 championship titles under his belt in Angola. One particular trophy though stands out to him though, the trophy that marks 45 years of Angolan independence.
When he’s not on the golf course, Manucho works as a chauffeur for a bank. Sport is often the topic of conversations in his car.
Professional golf is still growing up in Angola. Infrastructure and equipment are being developed. But Manucho hopes to inspire others, breaking down traditional stereotypes.
He tells us that some of the boys he teaches ask whether golf is only about well-dressed people. His answer to them is very clear: "no, if you become a professional, you will also dress like this and you will continue to be the same person you are and it will not change anything."
Manucho has big hopes for the future. He wants to beat the records in Angolan golf. If that leads him "to make a life outside of Angola" to further his golfing career then he will do that.