International award for Woking golf coach

A WOKING golf coach who introduces children as young as two to the game has won a prestigious international award.

Leah Roelich is the first recipient of the Leadbetter Kids Coach of the Year Award from the training academy run by David Leadbetter based in Orlando, Florida.

RECOGNITION – Leah Roelich with her international award for coaching young children

Leah was presented with the award by her husband, Robbie Midgley, who works at Woking Golf Club, as they watched the online ceremony on Zoom.

Robbie had been sent the trophy and kept Leah’s success a secret until her name was announced.

“I am still processing it and had no idea I was going to get it,” she said.

Gavin Grenville-Wood, the head of Leadbetter Kids education, said: “It’s awesome to recognise Leah for her achievements over the last year or so, especially during lockdown.

“Her passion for coaching children is matched by her desire to learn and develop her own skills, while also impassioning fellow coaches and those around her. She is one of the best young kids’ coaches in the country.”

Leah, who has been a golf professional since 2013, has trained children and young people for many years and last year set up Pea Wea Golf for children aged two to three.

“The programme has been designed to help with the development of motor skills such as co-ordination and balance, as well as the development of social and educational skills,” she said. 

The toddlers are given plastic clubs and soft balls to introduce them to golf and this allows them to develop playing until they can start with children’s clubs around the age of eight.

“I looked at other sports and saw there was rugby, football and even tennis for tots, but not golf,” Leah said.

Before the current lockdown, classes were held in nurseries and at Bletchingley Golf Club, where Leah runs the Leadbetter Junior Development Programme.

Currently, training is being held online, via Zoom and Instagram.

Pea Wea Golf includes short sessions called reflection time, in which children discuss topics such as patience and resilience and there is interaction with a penguin character.

“The little ones really respond to a character and get very excited when Pea Wea Penguin appears,” Leah said.

She started playing golf at 13, encouraged by her father near their home in Devon. 

“After just two years of picking up the clubs I was down to nine handicap and playing for the Devon County Girls and first team,” Leah said.

“At the age of 18 I broke the course record at China Fleet Golf Club in Torquay, shooting two under par and have also won several club championship titles.”

Two years ago, Leah moved to Woking with her husband.

She is the lead Surrey county coach for the under-15 girls squad, assistant coach for the county under-18 girls and was named Surrey Sports Coach of the Year in 2014.

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