The season has already started, and until the first of March, we will know who are collecting 500 ranking points for the first time in 2020.
The United States hosts the first FIFG 500 of the year on two different courses in the Las Vegas area this weekend. It is also a tournament during the Region One Tour and the AFGL Tour 2020. The minimum cash purse is $3,000.
FIFG introduced the 2020 World Tour guidelines including for example new ranking calculations, regional tournaments, the Masters and categories without the absolute one. Javier de Ancizar, FIFG Vice President explains the goals of the WT and the changes for this year.
What are the main differences from last year?
We have introduced regional tours and rankings. We have split the world into four regions:
Region 1: North & Central America
Region 2: South America
Region 3: Europe
Region 4: Asia & Oceania
This new concept also introduces the Masters, a tournament in which the best world, regional and national players compete. With this new format, all tournaments (FIFG 50, FIFG 100, FIFG 250, FIFG 500 and FIFG Majors) count for the regional rankings, and only FIFG 250, FIFG 500 and FIFG Majors count for the world ranking.
How do the different rankings help the players?
The World Tour 2020 allows all players to compete on an international level according to their possibilities in terms of time, resources, etc. With the introduction of the Masters, those national and regional players who cannot travel that much still have the chance to stay competitive and measure forces with the best players of the World Ranking. On the other hand, those players who want to be at the top of the World Ranking do not need to travel as much as last year, and will compete in better tournaments (as only FIFG 250, FIFG 500 and FIFG Majors count for the World Ranking).
Why is there no absolute category this year?
An absolute category in parallel with a senior category did not make sense and was unfair for the majority of the players. It was beneficial to a smaller group of players. Those players who were competitive in both categories had a clear advantage compared to those who could only compete in one of them as they always had a double chance in each tournament. In other words, the problem with that system was the double chance some players had over the rest. On the other hand, the men category is the one that all male players can play, even senior ones. But in order to avoid the double chance described before, all players can only play in one category. So, senior players have the option to either play in the men or in the senior category. It is up to their choice. The senior category is created in all sports considering those players who feel they cannot longer compete with the rest of the players due to their age. In the women category there is no senior category, simply because there is not enough volume of players. As for the juniors, at this stage they will compete with a special permit from the FIFG and will rank either in the men or women rankings.
How will the country points be calculated?
The country ranking is based on the best four results from their individual ranking points. Each country needs at least three players to be present in the country ranking.
What changes are coming with the full-professional system of BlueGolf?
BlueGolf has been running in the golf industry for many years. This new system requires time to adapt and learn, but we feel it is the right tool for us at this moment. We found an excellent partner in BlueGolf, capable of keeping up with what the sport and the World Tour is demanding.
What are the long-term plans for the WT?
The World Tour was thought as the main competitive platform of our sport. It was created as an aspirational concept for all players all over the world, in order to set the basis for growing the base of the amateur pyramid. Ultimately, this will attract sponsors and media attention and provide us the necessary resources for sustainable growth.
Here you can see the essence of the 2020 World Tour. Check the tournament numbers in the regions and the three categories before the season. More explanation is coming soon.
Sergio Vazquez won the last Major in 2019 in the senior category by four kicks. He is recovering from a heart surgery and suggests to have fun on the FootGolf courses, for example as he does with his son or grandson.
“The Major was something spectacular to me. Everything was millimetrically calculated and things went very well. It was a great closing of the year.” said Sergio Vazquez, the ex-international footballer. The Argentine defender needs no more hard tackles as he did in the past for his national team for instance on the 1994 World Cup, but needs his strong mental abilities to win tournaments like the last Major in his homeland.
Now he is recovering from a heart surgery.
“It takes time to adapt again and take out your fears. A year has passed and I think that little by little I am returning to a competitive level. You have to practice as much possible both your game and your mind.”
He recommends the new players to just have fun, go out and play with friends.
“FootGolf is a sport, one will always be grateful. I am playing with my son day by day, and soon my grandchildren will join us. It is a beautiful sport which distends you, sometimes makes you angry but at the same time gives you the opportunity to meet new people. The truth is that the FootGolf community is growing and becoming more beautiful.”
The first Regional SportAccord concluded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after three days of discussion, debate and high-profile networking. More than 100 leading sports – including FootGolf – officials and executives attended the first ever Regional SportAccord, with the overall theme looking at “A United Approach to the International Sport Landscape in the Americas.”
GAISF played an important part in the panel discussions, with GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli talking about sports governance and the role of International Federations (IFs) adapting to change.
“Over the last 30 years in particular, we have seen a massive change in commercial potential and a massive professionalisation of sport.” President Chiulli said.
“One important thing to understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. After all, GAISF’s membership goes from organisations the size of FIFA all the way to those with only a few full-time employees. But it is very important to constantly ask if it is possible to do more.”
GAISF Director Philippe Gueisbuhler also took to the stage during the panel session on the emergence of esports and spoke about the challenges and opportunities for traditional sport.
“This train is already on the move, it is not a question of stopping esports,” Gueisbuhler said. “It is there and will continue to grow, our kids and young people are on board and all we can do is try to bring it in the right direction.
IF leaders were influential throughout the event, speaking on key subjects such as the social responsibility of sports stakeholders, knowledge transfer, safeguarding athletes, rebranding and transforming host cities.
Olympians Willie Banks and Nadia Comaneci also gave the athletes’ perspective on the subjects of anti-doping and athlete protection.
As well as the conference programme, Regional SportAccord also featured an exhibition and specific networking events. The programme finished with workshop on the needs of Pan American National Olympic Committees and how IFs could reach these nations.
Following the event, President Chiulli said:
“I was very happy to see International Federations and sports stakeholders from completely different backgrounds coming together and sharing ideas here in Florida. This is the very foundation of what SportAccord is, and I believe we have seen many bridges built which will help to further the role of sport here in the Americas and around the world.”
Attending for the Federation for International FootGolf was Laura Balestrini, current member of the FIFG Board and FIFG Global Director of Membership, and was also invited Roberto Balestrini, the 4th President of the FIFG.
During the conference, the opportunity was given to the FIFG representatives to meet with Dr. Raffaele Chiulli, the President of GAISF and Phillippe Gueisbuhler, Director of GAISF. A direct meeting with Director Gueisbuhler was scheduled to review and confirm the requirements for the FIFG and particularly, what is needed from its member countries. He responded to all of the questions, shared ideas and provided a series of recommendations to achieve the goals with GAISF.
FIFG has an observer status at GAISF. To reach full membership, the main task – as member countries under the FIFG – will be to meet the requirements of the highests National Sports Authorities or the top Governing Body of Sports in their countries to gain full recognition and certification as an official sport, nationally.
"We left with overwhelming urgency to start the work that is needed, but feel it is an accomplishment we can do if we work together. Each FIFG member will need to gain recognition by the highest sports authority in their country, either from the government or National Olympic Committee. The FIFG will be there to educate the members and walk with them through the process. We are going to work with the presidents of countries who really want to work with us and get it done properly and on time. Otherwise we will be wasting incredibly valuable time that we can't afford or take a chance to fail. It is not too easy but not too late! Either the leadership of our FIFG member countries are 100 percent "in" and we all succeed, or we don't do what needs to be done and FootGolf will continue its path but just as a fun game, not as an official sport. Our main goal for the next two years is to have 40 FIFG members where FootGolf is recognised as an official sport in their country. We can also work and discuss about competitions and all other topics but, this should be the number one priority in each country and as the Director of Membership of the FIFG, I plan to dedicate my attention and efforts to this task. I invite all the presidents of the FIFG member countries to connect with the Board as soon as possible to review their status at national level and decide if they are going to commit and get it done or not." says Laura Balestrini.
Members of the Board of Directors and also volunteers who are familiar with the process, will start to reach out to each member to help them identify this within their country in order to start the process for recognition. "It may not be easy and certainly an intense task from each of us, but the final result is the reason all of us started with FootGolf. Let's work together and help each other reach the dream of full membership of GAISF where FootGolf is recognized as a global sport and then move towards making FootGolf an Olympic sport!" she added.
For more information on SportAccord, please click HERE.
Gianluca Bortolin became second among the seniors in Argentina. The Italian footgolfer needed a good start for this success in the last Major of the year.
Was it worth to travel across the ocean to participate in the Major in South America?
My trip to the Argentina Open was very pleasant and positive. I found an organization at the top level and of course my friends from all around the world. I felt, I was at home with my family. I wanted to thank the Argentinian guys once again for the splendid organization and hospitality.
What were the key points in your game to finish in second position?
To get in a good position, you need to start right away and so it was, but unfortunately the last day I was not able to compete on as high level as I wanted, but I am happy as I said above, all for the hospitality and the availability of the organizers.
Was it hard to prepare a tournament long like the Major?
My preparation for the tournament was as always: focus on the goal, concentrate, sacrifice and a lot of training. This mix brings you excellent results in any sport, or in work and life. It is fundamental to believe in what you do and in your abilities; for this I thank infinitely my caddy, who always gives me motivation to play my best.
The 2019 Yamaha FootGolf Asia Cup was held in Australia. Tsubasa Yasumura was victorious in the individual competition. The Japanese player found the passion in his life thanks to FootGolf.
How have you been prepared for the continental competition?
In order to win the Asian Cup this season, I participated in tournaments in various countries, observed various players and tried to upgrade their skills, strategy, mental and so on. I am very happy being able to win the championship.
What was the key to success?
The Asian Cup used two courses with different properties. The key was that I was able to focus on my course, calmly strategize and select the skills with confidence. Above all, the course in Australia was a great environment.
What does FootGolf means to you?
I have been playing the sport for five years. FootGolf gave me the curiosity to challenge my life with passion. And the game made many friends from all over the world.
Jen Broughall travelled across the world to compete on the last Major of the year. She went back with 1000 ranking points in her luggage.
“The experience was amazing, the hospitality from the organisation was brilliant. The VIP tent for the leaders was a really nice touch.” - summarized Jen Broughall (UK) her trip to Argentina to participate in the Major, where she became the best lady.
“I played really well this weekend, kept things really simple and steady, didn’t go for shots that would put me in trouble. My putting and tee offs were the strongest part of my game this weekend.“ - detailed her performance, which ended with her victory, beating Jo Reid by 8 shots.
“Preparation for me is more mental than physical, I know what I’m capable of but mentally you need to be strong before and during the event, if you make a mistake you need to forget it and move on to the next shot or hole.” - said about the balance she uses in her preparation.
European FIFG presidents met in Budapest on Tuesday. Gábor Gelencsér FIFG president invited the leaders of the member countries to discuss the plans for the future.
Gábor Gelencsér, FIFG president hosted a continental FIFG presidential conference on Tuesday, where nine countries attended personally and the others from all around the world followed online. The purpose of the nine hours long meeting was to discuss the long term plan of FootGolf including the status of the sport at GAISF, setting up committees in the near future for particular territories, creating the schedule and the buildup of the European, regional and World Tour also. They discussed the ideas for the continued growth of the sport. The participants disputed about the potential movements for the next Euro FootGolfs. Paul Oliver showed the BlueGolf system during usage and presented the new rule recommendations coming from the members.
“I am so happy that we could arrange this meeting in Budapest. Thanks all the presidents for attending and supporting the conference, provided by Ferenc Hinora, vice-president of the Hungarian federation and his marketing company, Positive Adamsky. And thanks for Auto Mirai to support us with Mazda vehicles giving transfers for the presidents. It was so productive, it showed, this is the way, how we have to move on. It is much easier to discuss such important things, like our beloved sport’s future personally. It was not the last meeting like this.” said Gábor Gelencsér right after the conference.
The British Ben Clarke won the last big event of the year. The Argentina Open was won by the World Tour leader, while Sergio Vazquez was the best among the seniors and Jen Broughall among the ladies.
After three rounds from Friday to Sunday, Ben Clarke (UK) kicked the less in the Praderas Golf Club, where the FIFG Major Argentina Open was held. He won the tournament by 5 kicks. It was his fifth FIFG 1000 tournament, where he finished in the first position.
Sergio Vazquez (ARG) won the senior category by 4 kicks, while Jen Broughall (UK) became the queen of Argentina winning the women category by 8 kicks.