It’s a harsh and irrefutable reality that is not often discussed in the surf media, but in this country, the ability to become a pro surfer has been limited to those whose parents can afford it.
Competition entry fees, coaching and travel to competitions (both ISA & WSL) abroad are all essential and costly steps on the ladder of any aspiring pro surfer and since sponsorship money has decreased dramatically in the last few years, these costs have often fallen on the heads of the surfers themselves and their parents. ‘Break out the violins’ may be many people’s default reaction – however what these people don’t realise is making the pathway to becoming a professional surfer more accessible, particularly in poorer areas, could have far reaching and boundlessly positive social repercussions.
In this vein, we’re pleased to reveal that today Surfing England has moved one step closer to be able to access Sport England funding by achieving National Governing Body Status.
So why is this a good thing?
Well, we are quick to acknowledge the transformative powers of surfing, both for individuals and communities in poorer places abroad, so why not bring this mindset closer to home.
here at home the places where you can surf are some of the most deprived in the country
The positives of making surfing, both as an all consuming hobby and a possible career, available to a wider range of young people are plain to see – it’s good for their health, self-esteem, it helps forge a care and understanding for the natural environment and most importantly cures an ailment that so often leads kids astray – boredom.
And what gives this particular significance here at home is the fact that places where you can surf are some of the most deprived in the country – indeed a recent study found Cornwall, West Wales and Durham and Tees valley to be the three poorest areas in the UK respectively.
“Surfing England’s recognition means that Sport England’s multimillion pound ‘Towards an Active Nation’ strategy can now be a target for the NGB and its affiliated surf clubs and organisations funding applications. This alongside the sports council’s other funding opportunities.” says the organisation.
“There is no guarantee of funding, but with funds for facilities, volunteering, participation, tackling inactivity, events, communities, performance, talent development and more, Surfing England aims to secure the sports financial future.” Said Bruce Daniel, Chair of the Surfing England board of directors.
Other countries around the world, including Australia and France, have already been enjoying the positive repercussions of public money in surfing and now, a similar injection is likely in the UK. Whilst there are specific funding avenues, determined by Sport England, we hope that public money will allow greater access and participation as well as provide a proper independently funded coaching programme, making becoming a top level surfer a realistic aspiration, no matter what your economic background.
We’ve got a full interview with Nick Rees, Surfing England’s head of operations, in the new issue of the mag, out in a few weeks. In it we discuss the journey that has lead to this massive achievement and find out more about the qualification process for the Olympics.
Photo Tim Nunn