Having been blind for 23 years, one would think that sixty-four year old Cecil Alexander, a retired specialist watchmaker, would have settled for the basics that life had to offer. But he had other ideas and the results of his brave decisions are proving to be fantastic.
Having been an avid golfer for years (and the only completely blind regular golfer in South Africa), Alexander has a tremendous passion for the sport. But what would he be doing on a golf course, you might ask? Well, winning of course!
However, Alexander hasn’t reached his new and exciting golfing achievements on his own. He always felt there was room for improvement and that he could become an even better golfer. So, after an interview he heard on the radio with Cyril Green (comedian) speaking about golf on the Wii Nintendo Sports, and his ex-dentist, Zummy Isenberg’s passion for it, Alexander knew this was the man to help him reach greater golfing heights.
Isenberg, a tech-savvy 80 year old and retired dentist thought teaching a blind person golf on the Wii Nintendo Sports was an impossible challenge. “This is more a game for individuals who are temporarily or permanently disabled.” However, despite the seemingly impossible task Isenberg thought about it that same night and the next morning he surprised Alexander with a prompt “Cecil, I can do it!” And it’s safe to say that Isenberg did it.
“He’s really very very good. He’s a pro in the game,” praised Isenberg. Now, many of you may be wondering how exactly this works. The obvious thing standing in their way would be Alexander’s vision impairment. But the concept is startlingly simple and something to behold. Isenberg acts as Alexander’s eyes, coach and caddy. By providing Alexander with the necessary information regarding the terrain he’s playing at that current stage in the game – gradient, wind, distance and the amount of force needed to get the ball going – it is safe to say that even Tiger Woods would be gobsmacked. These two men make a formidable team and the fact that they enjoy every minute of the game is a bonus.
Alexander has been under Isenberg’s guidance for just over five months and training sessions take place twice a week at Isenberg’s home. A session lasts about two to three hours. With Alexander comfortably positioned in a chair in front of the television and Isenberg standing behind him giving guidance, they make it seem so effortless. His best score is -4 for nine holes.
“The success that Cecil has achieved is way beyond my expectations.” beems the proud coach.”
When asked about Isenberg’s plans for this wonderful concept, he said he’d like to take it even further and make it accessible to more people, regardless of their type of disability so that the disabled can play against able-bodied players without any handicap at all. “I got hold of lots of societies but regrettably none of them took notice of me. The best and easiest way is for help and co-operation by Wii Nintendo Sports. If it works in South Africa, it could work anywhere in the world.”
Hopefully, the country will take note of this revolutionary new approach towards using technology to bring greater and more exciting opportunities to the world of the disabled. “Where there’s a will there’s a way. If one wants it to happen it can and will happen,” Alexander says. “I’m going to take away the word ‘impossible’; I feel it is possible. Every day I’m turning an adverse situation into an advantageous situation. With one word as my common denominator; attitude.”
Image 1: Disability means nothing to these two men, Zummy Isenberg and Cecil Alexander.
Image 2: Cecil Alexander at play.
Video courtesy of iShcool Africa