Girls Surf Day set to uncover the next generation of South African champions

Sisonke Surf Club, the non-profit organisation that promotes diversity in surfing – with the help of sponsors – is hosting Girls Surf Day on Saturday, 5 June 2021 from 9am to 1pm at Ushaka Beach, Durban. The fun-filled day aims to expose and encourage more girls from disadvantaged communities to explore the ocean and discover the sport of surfing. 

“Through Girls Surf Day, we aim to play our part in realising the vision of a multi-racial and demographically equal country,” explained Alvin Mtatshi, local lifeguard and founder of the Durban-based Sisonke Surf Club. “We want to represent the rich heritage and diversity of South Africa in our surf club across all cultures, genders and race.”

Traditionally promoted as a sport for men, surfing is increasingly being recognised as a popular sport for all genders, races and age groups. Pre-conceptions about the danger of oceans for young girls are being addressed, with cultural mindsets changing around women and sport in general. This has seen prominent organisations lending support to sports played by girls and women, with events such as Girls Surf Day further fostering a love for the ocean and conservation.

One of the event sponsors, Christelle Crickmore, owner of local swim and surf wear brand, Me and the Sea, expressed support for Sisonke’s vision: “We have come a long way since women were swimming and surfing in men’s swimwear and wetsuits. We need to keep pushing for gender equality in sports. The increased participation of girls in surfing competitions, and the focus of Sisonke, indicates that we are doing something right.”

Avid surfer, surf coach and leader of the Girls Surf Programme, Tazz Forbay, agreed, stating: “Life is changing for girls in South Africa. More and more young girls are exposed to opportunities they would have previously only have dreamt about. We want to be one of the voices that says girls can do anything and be anything, no matter the colour of your skin, or where you come from.”

Sisonke, which means ‘we are together’, plays a vital role in engaging the community and parents through social outreach programmes like the Girls Surf Day. An integral part of the social outreach is to educate and engage youngsters in ocean appreciation and conservation.

Girls Surf Day

Girls Surf Day on Saturday, 5 June 2021 is open to all girls between the ages of 7 and 18, with families welcome to attend as well. Participants must arrive by 9am, and bring sunblock, a hat, swimming costume and towel.

The day will start with a water safety presentation by Siyasindisa Academy, followed by fun beach games such as sand hunt, open gates and soccer. There will then be a surf demonstration by surf coaches, as well as learn-to-surf sessions with the participants.

Girls Surf Programme

Girls Surf Day will also see the launch of Sisonke’s Girls Surf Programme which will further the aims of empowering girls, especially those from disadvantaged communities, through surfing, thereby transforming grassroot surfers into future champions. 

Sisonke is searching for 10 girls of colour, residing in and around Durban, who are interested in a future of surfing. They  will be being guided and mentored by the Sisonke Surf Club throughout their surfing journey. Selections to the Girls Surf Programme will be made at Girls Surf Day, based on interest, performance and overall commitment and love shown to the sport.

Girls Surf Programme eligibility requirements:

·       Ages 7 to 18 years;

·       Able to float in the water or have basic swimming skills; and

·       Able to attend weekday and weekend training sessions.        

“Sisonke Surf Club uses surfing as a tool to engage the minds of the youth and to guide and mentor interested boys and girls through their surfing journey,” explained Mtatshi. “Sisonke aims to foster an inclusive and supportive surfing environment through community-building events like these, and eventually long-term mentorship. Through surfing, we hope to inspire the youth and prepare them – not only for their surfing career – but for the challenges of everyday life, so they can realise their best possible future.”