The first ever International Woman’s Day Girls’ Disc Golf Tournament held at the first ever disc golf course in Burkina Faso began at 10 AM on the morning of Monday, March 9th. When my site neighbor Amber (her village is ~77 km from Founzan) and I biked out to the course at 9 AM to set up for the day, there were already two girls waiting, ready to play. If you know anything about West African punctuality, you know that two teenage girls being an hour early for an event is something unprecedented and special. They each picked out a disc and warmed up as Amber and I drew out the scorecards and the other eighteen girls slowly showed up.
When everyone had arrived and we were ready to start, I held a small opening meeting at the first tee-pad. The girls patiently listened to a short impromptu “when I was your age” speech, in which I told them that this was a sport I played with my friends since I was in middle school, and so I built the course here in Founzan to share that with the youth here. I was tired of only seeing little boys coming out to play, I explained, so this was an opportunity for them to learn a new sport that they could come and play again whenever they wanted. Most girls had come to training days I held in previous weeks so they already knew how to play and throw with confidence, and when Amber read off each group’s starting tees, they were eager to get the tournament under way.
The rounds went by fast. I spent them speed walking from hole to hole taking pictures and telling the girls to slow down and to not throw when their group mates were standing immediately in front of them (difficult rule for beginners). When you play at tournaments in the US with the caricatures who take this sport super seriously (yes there are real tournaments, yes it’s a sport), people pick out specific discs and line up their shots and think about their whole lives from infancy up until that exact point in time until their eyes finally narrow and they make the throw. That is to say, tournaments in America that I’ve been to take all day long. This tournament was different in that the girls would walk up to their disc, look to the hole, and chuck the plastic at the metal in complete West African pragmatism, so I was constantly busy trying to keep groups from catching up to the groups in front of them and telling girls to take their time and focus.
After the first nine, there was a pause with bissap and cold water sachets which were gone in minutes. It was hot out, and my biggest mistake was somehow forgetting that we were in landlocked sub-saharia during the main hot season of the year and that 20 girls walking through woods and fields throwing discs at metal baskets require water. I was running around and stressing about it and trying to find ways to get more water fast but I think I was the only one really freaking out about it. A little after 11 AM once everyone was watered, the girls got back into their groups and out onto the course for round two. I continued to run around, sweatily taking pictures and encouraging girls after missed 5 foot putts (though there weren’t many of them!).
For lunch I asked Jean Paul to cook up some of his special rice with peanut sauce, funded with a donation given to me almost eight months ago from a family friend. As the girls ate rice with their hands in the shade, I counted up the scores and prepared the prizes. First place was a girl from my 5eC class named Ouedraogo Christine, a favored older girl who is pretty athletic and amazing at rolling her eyes in class. She was actually in my 5eB class last year but didn’t pass on to 4e, so it felt good to shake her hand and congratulate her on two rounds well-played. She shot a 28 and a 26, putting her total strokes on 18 holes at 54, par for the course. The next three closest girls were all tied at 60 strokes, so we held a tie-breaker for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. Sawadogo Awa took second place with a par on hole one while the other girls tied with 4 strokes and continued to tie through sudden death up until hole 5 when Baye Bielweli went one stroke up on Baye Madeline to take 3rd.
I wanted to know 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place because I had trophies sent from home for the finalists, which was exciting for everyone and fun to give, but they didn’t compare to the hand crafted blessing bands from Mindfully Made Studios sent from Amy Frank in central PA. The bands each feature a word of encouragement in french on the outside and the common blessings said here in both main local languages written on the inside. Also, I know it’s not the point of International Women’s Day, but the boys who came to spectate were so totally jealous. Check it out.
So special thanks to Amy Frank of Mindfully Made Studios for the blessing bands donation and to Judy Heald for the delicious rice with peanut sauce. The tournament was a success, and in June when I meet the volunteer who will replace me I’m probably just going to be hinting to him or her the whole time about how they have no choice but to do a second annual women’s day girls’ disc golf tournament. They better like disc golf.
There are lots more pictures let’s just do this:
Thanks for reading/just scrolling through and skimming the pictures!