Wembley youngster Banday wants to experience plenty of success over the summer
PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 June 2019
© Nick Webster 2018
Wembley isn't traditionally known as a golfing hotspot but teenage sensation Rafiah Banday is out to change that.
Banday is a scratch golfer at the age of just 15, finishing tenth at the British Championships earlier this month and poised to challenge for top placings at the English Championships this summer.
The Bentley Wood High School pupil has a crystal-clear view of her future in the sport, aiming to make it as a professional via a college education stateside.
"I started to play golf because I was inspired by my dad. He used to play and I used to like joining in when I went along to the course," said Banday, who plays at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.
"I love golf straight away because you can meet many new people and it's a really exciting individual sport to be involved in.
"The British Championships could have gone a lot better but I learnt a lot from the experience.
"The highlight so far has been gaining more confidence as I play under pressure in competitions. I have really benefitted from learning how to cope with pressure.
"I've got some national tournaments lined up, such as English Girls, and I am hoping to play as well as I can and finish as high up as possible.
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"I want to be a professional golfer one day. I want to go to university in America and become professional over there."
Her cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport's system.
Backed by £5.5 million of National Lottery funding, Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills.
Banday was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at The London Stadium, offering media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents.
The youngsters from all over the country were joined by sports stars Maggie Alphonsi, John McAvoy and Jake Wightman, with the latter offering his support for the SportsAid programme.
"When you're young the funding opportunities are pretty slim, so to know that there are people out there that will help you fulfil the potential that you feel like you have when not a lot of others are doing that is pretty vital," he said.
"I hope they've gained a lot from us athletes being here, because it wasn't that long ago that we were in that position. Every single one of them has got a good platform to go for success.
"Being a part of something like this, they're already a pretty good way along the path of being successful athletes. I hope they can come away believing that can happen thanks to Backing The Best."
*Backing The Best is helping talented young athletes facing the greatest financial pressure to pursue their sporting ambitions. The programme, managed by SportsAid for Sport England, is supported by National Lottery funding. Visit sportengland.org/our-work/talent/backing-the-best to find out more.