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Why Should You Meet Mozambique’s First Professional Surfer…?

Mini Cho, the sky is the limit. All photos by Toby Butler Photography

…Because the 20-year-old is forging a career for himself, paving a way for the next generation, and helping at-risk kids change their lives through surfing.

“I don’t want to be the first, and last, Mozambique pro surfer,” Mini Cho tells Wavelength. “ I want many more to come.”

Cho was talking to Wavelength having just shredded The Wave in the Surf Invitational on Day 3 of the Blue Earth Summit. The powerful, natural footer was mixing smooth tube riding with some big airs; standing out in what was a stacked field.

Given he is just 20 years old, and only started surfing at the tender age of 14, it was easy to see how his talent has earned him sponsorship from the Smile Wave Fund, O’Neill South Africa, and DryRobe, and why he’s the first surfer from Mozambique to qualify and enter a WSL Qualifying Series event.

But, Cho wasn’t at the Blue Earth Summit just to showcase his surfing. He is also the Director of Mozambique Surfers Not Street Children (SNSC) and has implemented the Durban-based program at his home beach of Tofo. The Summit provided the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and funds, for a program that has been changing African kids’ lives for 25 years.

The SNSC program was started by the UK’s Tom Hewitt in Durban, fusing surfing, mentorship, and care using dedicated local teams that include social workers, carers, lifeguards, surf coaches, and administrators. It now has an office in Croyde, in North Devon.

Mini, second from left, listens to SNSC Founder Tom Hewitt.

Cho was born to a Mozambican mother and a Korean father in South Africa, but moved to Tofo, a seven-hour drive north from the capital Maputo, aged 12. The town is one of the last stops on the Southern African continental backpacker trail, and when a tourist loaned him a 5’8″ neon yellow board he immediately became addicted. A few years later, having seen and worked with the SNSC Durban, he became a Director and helped to start the Tofo Beach Club, using the same diversion program.

“On our side, you can really see the effects of the program in a relatively short time,” said Cho. “Being the first Mozambiquan pro surfer I saw so many kids that wanted to get involved in surfing but had no access to the sport. We have given them that access and for many that have started surfing, it has changed their life.”

Unlike the SNSC Durban program, which predominantly helps street kids, Cho mainly works with kids at risk from drugs, alcohol, poverty, and violence. The plan is simple; get them hooked on surfing, so that’s all they want to do before and after school.

Tofo boats several great waves in the town itself, as well as various world-class secret spots to the north and south. Courtesy of Cho, the Tofo Beach Club and SNSC, it is now the only location in Mozambique with a local, growing, and dedicated surf scene. Recently, the club received a massive boost when it took hold of a stack of donated surfboards from the UK through FCS’s ‘The Board Drive‘.

The ever-smiling, ever-ripping Mini.

“The Tofo Beach Club is a way of tapping into the grassroots of surfing in the country and providing equipment, training, and guidance,” says Cho. “We have a long way to go, but the next goal is to set up a national surfing federation, and then build an Olympic team. As the country’s first pro surfer, my ultimate dream is to represent my country at the Olympics.”

Given what he’s achieved so far, you wouldn’t bet against him.

Wavelength Digital Editor, Ben Mondy, put a few burning questions to Mini Cho before he hit the water for the Surf Invitational at this year’s Blue Earth Summit….