Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Groundbreaking week for debutant nations at Singapore Island

Joy ChakravartyGuest Author
07 Mar 23
3 mins
Playing the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific is a matter of pride for every participant who qualifies for it, but the fifth edition of the Championship will be even more special for Vanessa Richani and Nada Mir.  There’s a good reason for that. Richani and Mir are flying the flags of Lebanon and Qatar respectively for the first time ever in the premier regional championship. Richani, 22, is originally from Beirut and now a resident of Long Beach in California. The 23-year-old Mir’s parents are from Pakistan, but she was born and brought up in Doha. “It’s an honor to be here and to be the first one for Lebanon. I don't know how to put it into words. I’m like speechless. But yeah, I’m just looking forward to this week. I want to stay patient and see what I can do this week against such a great field,” said Richani, who has her dad and first coach Acram with her this week.

Proud moment for Mir

Mir, who qualified for the WAAP following her historic gold medal-winning performance in the Pan Arab Championship in Tunisia (another first for Qatar) last year, added: “I am super excited to be here. I mean, for the first time, I’m playing with girls who will probably turn pro and we’re going to see them on TV in the future.  “And I am very happy to be here especially for Qatar, because we have never qualified for WAAP before. So, for me to be able to do that for the country that has done so much for me. I’m just very proud of myself, and my parents and brothers are very proud of me.”

Nada Mir - Qatar

"I hope I’m paving the way for the future generations. I'm going through all the challenges right now so that the generation that comes after me doesn’t have to do the same thing."

Rewarding opportunity

The journey to Singapore Island Country Club has been long, but rewarding, for both Richani and Mir. Both women are acutely aware that their chances of winning the tournament aren’t very bright, but that’s not the sole objective of making the trip. “There are just three golf courses in Lebanon and two of them shut down in the last couple of years. Our economy hasn’t been doing too well,” said Richani, a Senior at Long Beach, studying to become a fashion merchandiser. “I started playing with my uncle when I went to the US as an eight-year-old and have been in love with golf ever since. “It’s been a few years since I went back, but I want to go back soon this year. The last time I was there, there were barely any girls playing. I think there were like maybe two Lebanese girls from France that were there on the team. There were two other girls who were curious and started playing at the time. I believe there are at least 50 girls playing now. “Many of us live in different parts of the world, but we keep in touch with social media. I think we are developing a nice little community. “I want to continue to inspire other youngsters in Lebanon. I want to do Junior camps over there. I love teaching, so I’d like to become a golf coach.”

Family inspiration for debutants

Mir was fascinated by golf as a 10-year-old, watching her brothers play at Doha Golf Club. “My elder brother, Faisal, was a very good player.” said Mir.  “I would go early to the golf club, and I’d go right where all the boys would train, pick up the best spot right in the middle of the driving range, and try and pick up things that the coaches would tell their students.” Like million other golf-loving kids, Mir picked up 15-time major champion Tiger Woods as her idol, but not just because of his game. She also sees shades of him in what she is trying to do with the sport. “It’s more about the history that Tiger has – being half Black, half Asian. And for him to do and achieve things that he has. You really can’t compare anyone to Tiger. It’s not just his game, it’s his personality, it’s his upbringing and what he had to go through to become the player he is,” Mir explains. “This is what makes me want to be like him. Not the race part of it, but because of my gender, especially in the Middle East, where the notion is that girls are not allowed to do things. I hope I’m paving the way for the future generations. I'm going through all the challenges right now so that the generation that comes after me doesn’t have to do the same thing.  “I’ve seen a lot of growth, especially in Pakistan, my home country. Even 10 years ago, you wouldn’t see a single woman playing sports. And now there are so many young girls playing golf. I’m proud of myself that I am paving the way for them.”

Ambitions off the course

Both Richani and Mir also bring another strong aspect of their personality to the golf course. Richani wants to be involved with the sport also as someone with a keen eye for fashion. “My dream is to create a women's golf clothing line, just because I feel like it's very male-dominated right now,” said Richani, who loves Nelly Korda for her golf, and Charley Hull and Korda for their fashion sense.  “Monkeys!!” Mir replied without hesitation when asked what feature of the golf course she liked most. After all, she is a trained animal rescue worker. “I love the wildlife and the trees and the golf club has done a wonderful job here. Golf is always going to be full of challenges, but if you have sceneries like this, it becomes a lot easier.” Round One Tee Times