This year’s ISA World Surfing Games welcome a country nobody would associate with surfing: Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has plenty of mountains but no access to the sea. Luckily, that does not keep the Wave Rider Association Afghanistan (WRAA) from sending the Afghan National Champion Afridun Amu (29) to the competition.
Afridun Amu fled Afghanistan with his family before the Taliban came to power and grew up far from the ocean in Germany. Though fascinated by water and waves since he can remember, he only held a surfboard in his hands for the first time at age 19 and vividly remembers how he felt back then: “I knew I had just discovered something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
It’s not only his passion for surfing that makes him so happy to be the first representative of his country ever at an international surfing competition, it’s also his vision to use this passion for a greater good. Working as an expert on constitutional law and innovation, he has been trying to shape Afghanistan’s future for the better.
“What people in Afghanistan are missing are perspectives and hope; the hope to one day live in an ordinary, peaceful country. That is why new sports, such as skating or cricket are embraced in Afghanistan. Skateistan is an example of an organization that was initiated by a single skater and has grown to an NGO that improves the lives of Afghan children and in particular of girls. Afghans love Cricket, brought to the country by returning refugees. I have only received very positive reactions towards surfing in Afghanistan. It’s either: ‘This is awesome! I can’t believe something like this is even possible!’ or ‘How can I do this?’”
Amu is planning a surfing trip to Afghanistan with an international group of surfers in 2018 as a next step to promote Afghan surf culture. While Afghanistan is devoid of any ocean, it’s filled with wild river mountains that offer perfect river waves to be discovered and surfed. That is also where he intends to teach young Afghans surfing, as part of the Afghan National Olympic Committee’s initiative to send Afghan surfers to the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.
Keep an eye out for Amu has he becomes the first Afghani surfer to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games May 20 – 28. Follow the event live on www.isaworlds.com.