Fiji is internationally recognized for its world-class beaches and surf breaks but the involvement of Fijians themselves in water based activities is of a very low percentage.
The Fiji Surf Association looks to increase the participation of the local population in water sports such as surfing and life saving. It also looks to build on confidence levels and skill sets in and around the ocean to combat the high rates of drowning that the island nation holds. In response to this need and the identification of the unbalanced male to female ratio that occurs within this sphere the Fiji Girls Go Surfing Day was held at Natadola Beach on the 15th of November, 2014.
Over sixty participants, ranging in ages from eight to sixty four and coming from different parts of Fiji, the Pacific and the world, took to the waves in an encouraging environment. By understanding that girls and women are not always comfortable learning something new around men, especially when it is a male dominated sport like surfing the event looked to create a safe, inclusive and fun atmosphere for the participants to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. Suva surfer Tyler-Rae Chung had this to say of the day “the event that took place on Saturday has really encouraged the development of women’s surfing in Fiji. It was exciting to see a high turn out of women from all ages especially the young local girls. If the number is anything to go by, I feel that the future of women’s surfing in Fiji is promising.”
All participants received one-on-one coaching which was tailored to suit the need of the individual. The coaching focused on teaching the correct paddling and pop-up technique and enabled the girls to grasp the fundamental skills of surfing.
By the completion of the day most of the women had stood up on their boards and all enjoyed their newfound skill showcasing the talent and enthusiasm that the group has for surfing.
A special mention must go to the young girls of Kulukulu and Sanasana villages for their boundless energy, smiles and obvious talent that they have for surfing.
The Girls Go Surfing Day would not have been possible without the support of the Fiji Surfing Association, Fiji Surf Co, Pacific Building Solutions, FMF, Coke Zero, and SHE Project.
To find out more about surfing and water based awareness and education programs in Fiji head to the Fiji Surfing Association Facebook page or visit www.surfingfiji.com.fj
– Sam Suenderman, Event Coordinator 2014