The International Surfing Association (ISA) has welcomed the Sierra Leone Surfing Association (SLSA) as its newest Member Federation, further driving the global expansion of the sport, particularly on the African continent.
With innovation and youthful energy at its core, Surfing has a unique ability to connect with young people around the world. The ISA is committed to continuing the rapid growth of Surfing by providing more opportunities and better access to equipment and facilities for young people. As Surfing continues on its path towards Olympic inclusion, the sport’s consistent growth and reach amongst young people will continue to underpin the ISA’s strategy for global development.
A newly founded body, the SLSA is situated at the Bureh Beach Surf Club on the west coast of the country – a central hub for Surfing in Sierra Leone. The club offers surf lessons and board rentals to aspiring surfers with 100% of proceeds being used to develop the local community and employ local staff. The Association has also set up a Junior Surfers Programme aimed at providing young surfers with special training and educational support away from the waves.
During 2016 the Sierra Leone Surfing Association aims to:
• Implement proper structure and organisation for Surfing in Sierra Leone
• Organise the first ever Sierra Leone Surfing Championship
• Increase the number of surfers and the availability of surf training in Sierra Leone
• Explore other surfing areas across the country and spread the sport in these places
• Gain recognition from the government and National Tourism Board to help grow the federation and develop the sport nationwide
Fernando Aguerre, ISA President, said:
“Surfing has a thrilling nature and its unique inclusive culture makes it popular amongst people of all ages and backgrounds. We’re delighted to welcome the Sierra Leone Surfing Association to the ISA family as we continue to grow and develop the sport in Africa and around the world.
“By offering more opportunities to young people in different regions through increased access to equipment and a higher standard of training we can help to share the thrill and enjoyment of Surfing and open the sport up to people who may have never considered participating before.
“As we are seeing in Sierra Leone, along with the excitement and energy Surfing can bring it also has a unique capacity to bring people and communities together – helping to create social opportunities and economic growth. We will continue to harness the love and energy for Surfing around the world as we continue in our campaign to make Surfing an Olympic sport.”
Barbara Kendall, ISA Vice-President and IOC Member, who played a key role in the application process, said:
“It’s exciting to see Sierra Leone become a Member of the ISA. Full membership brings so many opportunities to countries like Sierra Leone and their young athletes – particularly if Surfing becomes part of the Olympic Programme in 2020. Congratulations to everybody at the SLSA and we all look forward to the day when we see Sierra Leone send athletes to international competition.”
Jahbez Benga, Sierra Leone Surfing Association President, said:
“Being a member of the ISA will put Sierra Leone on the Surfing map and we are proud to be part of something that shows the positive side of our country. We hope that more people from around the world will come and surf with us and that in the future we will have some Sierra Leonean surfing champions.
“Surfing in Sierra Leone was seriously affected by the war and the recent Ebola outbreak also had a big impact on the sport here. Sierra Leone was set to host the Africa Surf Invitational Competition but we had to postpone because of Ebola. The outbreak also stopped tourism and everything was shut down, but surfing helped us. It was medicine for us and helped us pass the time. The future of surfing in Sierra Leone is bright – we have so many junior surfers from age 10 under who are already pulling crazy tricks.
“I am so happy this moment has come. It has been a long struggle to spread the word and explain surfing here but now Sierra Leone is a member of ISA, it is official!”