Children of Maldives implements a surf program aimed at training kids and adolescents.
Written by Mibsam Zareer
Posted on 14th December, 2020
COVID-19 has been a game-changer in many ways. While the pandemic caused global recessions and instability, the greater part of the Maldivian surf community was also down with withdrawals and the uncertainty of not knowing when they will be able to surf again. Astonishingly, many new faces have recently cropped up amidst the pandemic, owing to organizations such as Children of Maldives; a non-governmental organization that carries out community-based projects such as book clubs, music and coding for the youth.
Their new project, Kudhi Raalhu, began with a young boy in a battle against boredom during a city-wide lockdown. He decided to head out to surf on his own with an old surfboard that stood as a display at a guesthouse. This interest in surfing inspired an initiative that now trains children to catch and ride whitewash by themselves and achieve other fundamental skills such as patience, balance, and endurance. Participants are also educated about environmental issues that face the country and how they can give back to nature. The program consists of 12 sessions of one and a half hour trainings. At the end of training, each batch of participants takes a trip to Thamburudhoo island in order to test their skills. Thamburudhoo houses two (a left and a right) of the best waves in the country.
The program runs mostly on donations. Participants are not required to bring their own boards. Most of the boards are donated by various parties. All graduates of the surf program also receive a necklace with a surf board pendant as a memento for completing the program. This pendant allows the graduates to borrow boards at any time if they come by where the program is held.
The trainers in the surf program, Aman and Al, work closely with participants on the beach as well as in the water. Thanks to their combined efforts in roughly 6 months they have trained over 50 surfers between the ages of 7 and 15, and are currently training their fifth batch of surfing initiates. Children of Maldives hopes to contribute towards building a close community of young surfers that reaches beyond individual surfers’ goals and works towards positive change by celebrating each other’s wins. With roughly 40% of the graduates continuing to surf independently and reaching out to more experienced surfers, Children of Maldives is optimistic about the increasing number of youngsters taking up surfing.
The NGO highlighted that despite the abundance of surf spots and a large community of over 200 surfers, there is a huge imbalance with the number of opportunities. As evident by the many surf spots that are being developed as government projects with little to no concern for the negative impact on surfing, the NGO believes that surfing is not prioritized as a sport. Children of Maldives hopes that surfing will be considered when making such decisions in the future, especially with the increasing number of surfers across the country.
Photo credits: Naha Nasrulla