The International Surfing Association (ISA) mobilized surfers across the globe to celebrate the power of surfing on the United Nations’ International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP).
Surfers of ISA Member Nations across all continents of the globe joined the initiative by participating in the #WhiteCard Campaign, raising a white card to represent the power of sport to create social change, development, and peace.
The seventh annual celebration of the event, held each year on April 6, highlighted the stories behind each white card. Surfers from countries such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Iran, Maldives, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, USA, and Venezuela shared their stories of how surfing is creating positive impact in their lives and communities.
ISA Scholarship ambassador from Iran, Mahkameh Moarrab, displayed her white card to represent the positive ways that surfing has changed her life since picking up the sport three years ago.
Makhameh fell in love with surfing and gained new aspirations to make her country proud by representing Iran in international surfing events.
General Secretary of the Maldives Surfing Association, Ali Ahsan, explained that young women raised their white cards to symbolize the recent emergence of female surfing in the Maldives.
“Recently there has been a huge growth of girls showing interest in surfing,” said Ahsan. “Girls are joining surf schools and development programs. Despite the challenges girls face in the sport of surfing in Maldives, which is quite male dominated, these girls are very determined to become the new generation of the sport.”
Costa Rica’s Henry Martinez, a Bronze Medalist in the Visually Impaired-1 Division at the AmpSurf ISA World Para Surfing Championship, explained how surfing has altered his life for the better.
“For me, surfing meant a change in my lifestyle, a greater confidence in myself and an improvement in my state of health,” said Martinez. “In addition, it is a passion, something that I enjoy and love to do, and above all, transmit to more people with disabilities.”
In USA, ISA Membership and Development Manager Alex Reynolds joined the #WhiteCard Campaign to share his personal experiences with the power of surfing.
“Surfing is not just something fun that we love to do but also a tool that can be used to positively impact people’s lives,” said Reynolds. “The ISA’s mission to create a better world through surfing resonates with me and I’ve seen the stoke of surfing touch the lives of surfers of all ages, abilities, and cultures and in all corners of the globe through my work in the ISA Membership and Development Department.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“We are proud to continue this incredible annual tradition and activate our global surfing community to demonstrate the profound impact that the sport has in their lives.
“Surfing is more than just a sport. It is a lifestyle, a tool for healing, and a means to connect people from around the globe. While we may feel different from people on the other side of the world, April 6 is a great moment to remember that we are not so different after all and we all connect through the common love of a sport.
“It was great to see participation from many non-traditional surfing nations. Especially since Surfing’s Olympic inclusion, we have been promoting the sport’s growth and development in new corners of the globe and the participation of these emerging surfing communities attests to these efforts.”
In addition to the celebration of IDSDP, the ISA also uses its own development initiatives to promote the growth and development of surfers around the world. The ISA Scholarship program, which has awarded nearly USD $350,000 to U-18 surfers around the world since 2007, and the ISA’s 2020 Solidarity Program, both targeted underserved and disadvantaged surfers and their families around the world to provide financial aid and support.
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Para Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Para Surfing Champions in 2015.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.
Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).