Sportsmen have been forced to seek alternative sources of income to sustain their livelihoods during the ongoing pandemic and Muthaiga golf club-based caddie Peter Mbatia is no different.
On a typical day, you would find 52-year-old Peter Mbatia on a golf course creating magical moments with pro golf players as a caddie.
But, with the suspension of sporting activities in the country, Mbatia has resorted to selling African print-inspired shoes and handbags to make ends meet.
« I have tried to sustain myself in selling the African products like the handbags and the sandals the hurts and of course the purses but at the moment with the economy, as it is, they are not selling. So I’m trying to get into the boutiques where they sell ladies items the clothing but they are still saying that their businesses are not struggling and they don’t have customers so at this moment they can’t order anything, » he told Nairobi News.
Mbatia, who has been a caddie since 1995, has earned a living from some of the top golfing tournaments including the Magical Kenya Open and the Kenya national golfers championships that have enabled him to earn a living in the city with an overflowing number of clients in any competition filled golf year.
« Being in this bag selling business has been a big culture shock for me especially in terms of getting clients and making money because since sports activities were suspended I get at least one client in a good week otherwise I am doomed.
« Members from all the clubs came out to assist their caddies in terms of cash, and of course food packages during the first wave of Covid-19 last year. I’m calling on well-wishers, or anyone can partner with the KNCA or any other club, call upon captains of these clubs tell them you want to bring this kind of food packages so that caddies can survive, » he adds.
Despite the uncertainty over the resumption of sports in the country, the father of three is adamant that his caddie and golf skills will soon propel him into coaching once the situation is back to normal.
« Being a caddie is all I have known all my adult life and I have gotten a lot of training from when I was working for pro golf players like Jimmy Kingori, Amir Shar, and pro Jeff Kubwa. I have worked with them for a long time and I have gained a lot of experience.
« I can now say that I can also be a coach, I can also be a golf teacher because of what I have gained from them. I am also reading golf digest books to increase my knowledge of the sport.
The Kenya National Caddies Association chairman Patrick Kariuki confirmed he had written a letter to the sports ministry requesting financial cushioning but no action has been taken yet. The association says about 1,600 of its members have been affected by the suspension.