Surfing on the rise in Sierra Leone following inclusion as ISA Member Nation

By Tom Lloyd, La Jolla, California, March 01, 2018: Just two years after joining the International Surfing Association (ISA) as the 98th Member Nation, the Sierra Leone Surfing Association (SLSA) has made great strides in the development of the sport in the country.

The SLSA has reached two important milestones at the end of 2017 by holding their first National Championship and delivering the first ISA Instructor Certification Course.

The National Championship took place between December 2-11 and featured 38 competitors — all of whom delivered high quality performances that highlighted the marked growth in elite level surfing in the country since joining the ISA in 2016.

Four national champions were crowned across the Open, Women, Junior, and Grom divisions, including an impressive display of talent from the up-and-coming junior level surfers.

The SLSA has also been accessing the extensive benefits available as ISA members and have had three surfers selected as ISA Scholarship ambassadors in 2017. All three surfers participated in the National Championship, with a particularly impressive performance from 15-year-old ISA Scholarship recipient Samuel Johnson who was crowned the Junior Division National Champion.

On the back of the National Championship, the SLSA also held their first ISA Surf Level 1 Instructor course in the country. Five surfers from Sierra Leone, including Kadiatu Kamara, the Women’s National Champion, and one German surfer participated in the course held by ISA Course Presenter Stefan Pfeiller.

The participants successfully completed the course, gaining the proper knowledge, tools, and techniques to spread the sport in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and beyond.

The Sierra Leone Surfing Association joined the ISA in February of 2016 with the goals of implementing proper structure and development initiatives for Surfing in Sierra Leone, organising the first-ever National Championship, increasing the number of surfers and the availability of surf training in Sierra Leone, exploring other surfing locations across the country, and gaining recognition from the government and National Tourism Board to help grow the federation and develop the sport nationwide.

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:

“The ISA is committed to facilitating the rapid growth of Surfing around the world, especially in non-traditional Surfing nations such as Sierra Leone. We strive to provide more opportunities and better access to equipment to reach new surfers and help the sport flourish.

“The recent development milestones achieved in Sierra Leone are fantastic for the growth of the sport in Africa and representative of the global growth that the sport has experienced since the IOC’s decision in August of 2016 to include Surfing on the Sports Programme of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“The ISA will continue to work hand in hand with the SLSA to realize the full potential that the sport has in Sierra Leone and legitimize the sport.”

Sierra Leone Surfing Association President, Jahbez Benga, said:

“Becoming a member of the ISA has been a key step in the growth and development of the sport in Sierra Leone. Under the ISA’s guidance we have made significant progress towards achieving our goals and have held a successful edition of our first National Championship.

“Surfing in Sierra Leone only got serious five years ago when we first opened the Bureh Beach Surf Club, but at that time there were only a few surfers in the country and many had no idea about the sport. Now, Surfing is really gaining credibility, positively impacting our community, and the level of talent is increasing exponentially.

“It’s been a long road to spread the sport across Sierra Leone and we are optimistic about what the future beholds. It’s our dream to one day see a Sierra Leonean surfer competing in the Olympics on the world’s greatest sporting stage, and thanks to the ISA, this is a dream that could one day come true.” —- Photo: SLSA

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