Slovakia was awash in footgolf euphoria. Lucia Čermáková, who won the world championship a week ago in Orlando, has done a lot to promote the young sport, which mixes elements of football and golf. The Slovaks also won two other medals in Florida. In an interview with Aktuálně.cz, the 24-year-old talks about the development of footgolf and the context of the tournament.
How was the first week in the shoes of the world champion?
It’s still fresh. It’s an incredible feeling, and I can also see how much it caused a boom in Slovakia, especially in the media and on social networks. I get beep notifications all the time on Facebook and Instagram. I enjoy success as much as I can.
The video with your emotions before the last kick resonated the most on social networks. How do you remember them?
I already entered the last three holes with a lead. I knew my opponents would have a hard time catching me. Then when I stood on the last hole, everything exploded in my head. I cried, I realized what I had accomplished.
Are Slovaks now discovering what footgolf really is?
Yes, that’s what makes me happiest. We made a good name for Slovak footgolf in the championship, I hope it will take off even more here. I hope these successes will bring more players to the greens.
The Slovaks also won silver and bronze in the team competitions. So, are you a footgolf powerhouse?
Certainly after this championship. Our association organizes a huge number of tournaments, we have a Slovak tour and a cup. In all there are twelve to fourteen tournaments a year, I would say that we have better preparation than the others.
What was it like playing footgolf in Florida? You wrote on Instagram about digging ponds with alligators.
It was unreal. I’ve never had anyone warn me before starting a game to watch out for alligators, poisonous snakes, or frogs. Standing near water was quite stressful for me.
What is foot golf?
It is a sport that combines elements of football and golf. The player tries to get the soccer ball (usually played with a ball Apples) for the smallest possible number of attempts in a hole with a diameter of 53 centimeters.
Most courses have 18 holes and each of them, like in golf, is marked with a par, that is, the theoretical number of kicks an experienced golfer must take to send the ball into the hole.
Footgolf was created in the Netherlands in 2008, world championships were held in 2012 (Hungary), 2016 (Argentina), 2018 (Morocco) and 2023 (USA).
There is also an offshoot called soccer golf, which is played on courses with artificial obstacles. On the other hand, footgolf is only played on golf courses.
Number of certified playgrounds in the Czech Republic: 7 (list here).
Everything was fine in the end?
Yes, I didn’t trip the ball in the water and also avoided all the other animals. Except for a little raccoon bear who stole candy from my bag. He chose her for me. (laugh)
You talked about the popularity of your sport in Slovakia… How many footgolf courses do you have?
Eight in total, I think. Most of the time, it is designed for us to mingle with golfers on the greens in different ways. But if you are at risk of being hit by a golf ball while playing, this is not the case.
You played football for Slovan Bratislava, you also joined the national youth team. How did you come to footgolf?
One day, a journalist approached me if I wanted to try. We had a post-season, I said to myself “why not”. I liked it, after training I signed up for a tournament and started combining footgolf with football. Four years ago, I switched to footgolf only.
Was it difficult to leave football?
At first, yes, I missed football. But I realized that in football I probably did the maximum in Slovakia. Women’s football is not so supported in our country, after all I needed to earn money for footgolf and there was no time to combine it with football.
What got you most excited about the greens?
I like to play for myself. All the responsibility goes to my shirt, it’s different in football.
And have you ever tried golf?
I have never played golf, but clearly I had a big advantage as a former footballer when transitioning into footgolf.
During the celebrations with the cup, Čermáková encountered a similar moment to French Open tennis champion Iga Šwiateková:
What was the biggest challenge for you when you switched to footgolf?
Definitely learn to control the impact of your kicks. Its very important. At the same time, the wind and the slope of the course must be taken into account. If it’s windy, it’s hard to guess the high kicks. The problem also arises when the hole is placed on a mound.
How many yards do you hit in footgolf balls?
Usually easily fifty or sixty yards. If the hole is played downhill and the wind is still blowing, it is certainly sometimes over a hundred meters.
Slovak fans could even watch the Orlando championship on television. How was the publicity on site?
It was really clear that footgolf goes a long way in this regard. There were a lot of journalists at the championship, live broadcasts were broadcast all over the world. In the app you can watch the whole game, not just the last holes. Cameras were everywhere. It was a pleasant surprise.
Could your sport enter the Olympic program in the future?
I hope a chance will present itself! Our sport is gaining popularity all over the world, for example in America they have many beautiful grounds. I believe that footgolf will continue to be heard more and more.
In addition to national tournaments, how often do you have the possibility of an international confrontation?
International tournaments begin in June. At this time, things calm down a bit in Slovakia and world events begin. At least three times a month we travel to different countries, at this level footgolf already takes a lot of time and money.
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