Sal, Cape Verde, 3 May 2014 – As part of the plan to step up its aim for inclusion in the Olympic Games Sports Programme, the International Surfing Association [ISA] has today presented to delegates at the Africa International Sports Convention [CISA] in Sal, Cape Verde, showcasing Surfing’s vision and ambition for further growth in Africa and around the world.
Delivered by the ISA’s Africa Development Advisor, Sean Brody, the presentation focused on the ISA’s vision for the growth of the sport on the African continent, but also how Surfing can help stimulate and develop local economies by creating new jobs, growing tourism and creating a new youthful public image and better access to healthcare and education.
Celebrating its 50th year, the ISA now has 84 Member Federations on all five continents and it is estimated that 35 million people surf worldwide. Amongst the 84 Member Federations, 12 are in Africa and it is expected that figure will continue to rise with further targeted outreach and development initiatives.
A sport imbued with youthful values and energy, Surfing is a 22 billion dollar business revolving entirely around the youth demographic and sport lifestyle. With Africa’s extraordinary and expansive coastlines and considering ease of access to waves, the ISA has made the expansion of the sport in Africa a major priority.
In Liberia, the ISA worked in partnership with Surf Resource Network, an NGO also run by Brody, to create the Kwepunha Retreat, the country’s first surf camp. In addition to welcoming tourists, the retreat supports the local population with youth mentoring and community health projects. The programme’s unique board share system also enables young people to borrow surfboards if they’re attending school, participating in beach clean-ups and taking part in surf club activities. With the help of the ISA and the Surf Resource Network, Liberia also hosted its National Surfing Championships for the last five years and huge efforts have been made to increase the participation levels of female surfers.
In addition to being a rich source of future development for Surfing, Africa has had a long-standing history with the sport. South Africa has been a Surfing stronghold for many years and in addition to the many National Championships held on a yearly basis, South Africa was the first African nation to host the ISA World Championship with the edition in East London in 1978. The ISA since returned to Durban in 2002 and 2003 for the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Championships respectively.
In recent years, National Championships have also been held in Ghana, Senegal, The Ivory Coast and Sao Tome and Principe amongst other nations and Sierra Leone will host its first grassroots invitational event in October this year.
Efforts have also been made to underline the educational value of surfing across the world – a vision which is being realised thanks to the ISA scholarship programme which has delivered 192 scholarships valued at USD $178,500 in over 40 countries since 2007.
Fernando Aguerre, ISA President, said:
“The ISA has overseen the development and growth of Surfing in new markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America and its booming popularity in these markets shows the universality of Surfing and its great appeal amongst young people.
“We are delighted with the consistent growth of Surfing worldwide but we know that our hard work must continue as we step up our plans for inclusion in the Olympic Games. By 2015 we plan to have more than 100 Member Federations and by 2020 we want to have 50 million people surfing worldwide as our global reach continues to expand.
“Like many young people around the world, Surfing has no regard for wealth, status, race, creed, gender or age and we want to make our sport accessible to everyone regardless of their location or background. With the Agenda 2020 debate ongoing and the new, state-of-the art wave technology that is set to revolutionise our sport, we believe that now is the right time to spread our love of Surfing to all corners of the globe.”