Akshay Maliwal graduated from the University of California-Berkeley, where he played golf on an athletic scholarship. He knows how hard it is for an Asian man like himself to make it in in the US, and earn a great privilege like he did. That’s why he decided to pay if forward.
You may also like:
In 2016, he founded DreamBig Events, a firm dedicated to providing a platform for kids in Asia to make it big in sports globally. Starting with tennis events, they have had 500 participants in the last three years. That number is substantial, but modest compared to Maliwal’s vision. Like his company’s name, his goal shoots for the stars: he wants to train and equip a million young athletes in the region.
“I’m happy to say we have more than 70 percent returns; more than 70 percent have attended more than once. That’s a good number because it meant the experience we provide people is working,” says Maliwal.
Last December, DreamBig held its Gold Series Golf Camp at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite. Three top US NCAA Division 1 coaches came over and shared their skills and knowledge with aspiring golfers: Columbia University’s Richard Mueller, UCLA’s Andrew Larkin, and UC Berkeley’s Chris Masolletti flew in for the two-day clinic, and taught lessons in range and short game and sharpened the students’ practice skills and pre-tournament routines. Aside from giving them a taste of how it is to prepare for a US competition, they also exposed them to next-level coaching styles.
Maliwal says that they feel there is a missing gap in international training in the country, and want to give Filipino athletes more exposure. “We want the student-athletes to get scholarships in the US. Bringing in these top-tier college coaches will give them inspiration,” he says. “We don’t want them to just settle for the reality here. We want them to aspire for more than that.”
The CEO believes that the journey begins in the developmental years. Talent must be nurtured, and mentoring should follow. Provide them with the exposure, and then the discovery. There is no other way to do that apart from going abroad to look, participate, and come out victorious at tournaments.
“If you want to be a global athlete, you need to travel abroad. That’s a must. We want them to get enrolled at the great mentoring colleges,” Maliwal says. “If you combine the developing, mentoring, and placement together in one, we have created a successful student athlete journey.”
DreamBig combined a qualifier tournament together with their clinic, which happened prior to the camp. The 2019 Golf Challenger Series was a 36-hole two-game tournament, held on December 16 and 17 at the same venue. This was a Future Champions Golf (FCG) licensed tourney, one of the biggest junior tours in the States.
With DreamBig being the licensed qualifier provider of the tour in Asia, they gave the winners a direct invite to the San Diego FCG Callaway World Championship this July. As Maliwal says, they just didn’t want to do a camp or tournament. They wanted it to be a precursor to something bigger.
Apart from the coaches, they had counselors—all former student athletes themselves—engage in interactive discussions with the parents. They provided an avenue where they met and had detailed discussions about their kids’ future.
But even if it doesn’t pan out how the Filipino golfer wants it to and be recruited to the big colleges, Maliwal is quick to say it does not simply end there.
“The coaches didn’t just want to recruit for themselves. They also wanted to educate the players that were not the most desirable candidates on what are their other college options available,” he says, adding that parents had individual conversations with the coaches about each child’s chances and opportunities. “They aren’t selfish because they think about the student-athletes over themselves. They are giving them a bigger periphery or vision of the options they can take.”
The next DreamBig event will be its Gold Series Tennis Camp, which will be held at the Manila Polo Club in a few weeks. For more information, visit their Facebook page.