Liberia Becomes the Ninth ISA Member Nation From the African Continent
International Surfing Association
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
La Jolla, California
Liberia is working toward a future removed from its troubled past – and doing so, partly, through surfing.
Eight years removed from its last civil war, the country has a growing tourism industry, part of which circulates around its 350 miles of pristine, white-sand coastline in Western Africa. It was for that reason and the hope of continuing to increase surfing’s presence in the country that it applied and was accepted to become the ISA’s 71st Member Nation.
The ISA has recently undertaken the goal of growing surfing throughout the continent of Africa.
In March, the ISA sent a representative to Mali to address an audience of national Olympic delegates at the Africa International Sports Convention (CISA). In his presentation, Marcos “Bukao” Esmanhoto, the ISA’s Contest Director and an Executive Committee member, outlined the ISA’s efforts to develop surfing throughout the continent, touching on the potential social and economic implications of having a blossoming surf scene. Following the presentation, he received a resounding applause from the roomful of representatives from each of the continent’s 53 countries.
“At the ISA we are aware of all the good that surfing has done as a social, economic and cultural force for a better world. It’s a sport and a lifestyle that breeds opportunity and positive energy for practioners and fans alike,” said Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA. “We know that surfing can function as a tool, a vehicle, for positive change on several levels. I’m so happy that Liberia has recognized the benefit of surfing and of working with the ISA. We’re excited to help them develop the sport in their country.”
“I’m happy for Liberia, for its citizens, and of course, I’m happy that surfing has started the ‘ride’ in Liberia,” Aguerre continued. “This is all good news for the peace loving people in that part of Africa.”
When Aguerre became president and chairman of the ISA in 1994, the organization had just 31 member nations. He radically altered the face and action of the ISA, aiming to grow its impact and recognition throughout the world. The addition of Liberia brings the total number of member nations to 71, nine of which are from Africa. Along with Liberia, Cape Verde, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa are member nations of the ISA.
Part of the presentation to CISA included the goal to raise the number of ISA member nations on the continent from eight to 15 by the end of 2013. The ISA also hopes to raise its total number of member nations around the world to 100.
While all of the current African ISA Member Nations have a coastline, with the way surfing has evolved around the increasing popularity of StandUp Paddleboarding (SUP), having a coastline is no longer critical to creating a surf culture. As long as there is a large body of water, surfing and the lifestyle its embodies can prosper.
For instance, Uganda and Niger both have large lakes within their boundaries, which could host SUP and paddleboard races. With the right winds, it’s possible that waves can break, much as they do in the Great Lakes, which has helped to generate a surfing scene in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in the United States. The nearest ocean coastline to Sheboygan is nearly 750 miles away.
“The stoke for riding waves continues to expand around the world,” Aguerre said. “Liberia’s membership is part of a strong push at the ISA to develop the sport of surfing in Africa.”
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, 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; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 104 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).