In a Surfing Australia first, a group of young Indigenous surfers will mix their love of surfing and culture when they paddle out this weekend.
The inaugural First Nations Youth High Performance Program starts today with a three-day camp taking place at URBNSURF park on Wurundjeri land and Philip Island on Boonwurrung land in Victoria.
The year long initiative is being led by an all Indigenous committee as well as some of the best surfing coaches in the country.
Committee spokesperson and Former Open World Indigenous surf title holder Rory Togo hopes the camps produce more Indigenous pro surfers, but the main goal is for young people to have a good time.
“One of the things we really hope is that one day we’ll eventually end up making onto the world tour, but one of the things we want to ensure is that is that the kids are having fun.
So if the aspire to get to those levels the camp is really there to encourage that and to ensure that they can make it to that stage one day.
But ideally we just want to ensure that the kids have fin they continue to surfing because we all started surfing because it is fun and some of the kids will have that competitive drive to take it all the way,” he said.
Connection to traditional practices and culture will also play a big role in the camp.
Togo says that he wants the kids to come back with more than stories of catching waves.
He says “We’ve got a lot of cultural information, and identity workshops we’re going to be running as well.
The camp is really focused around surfing and we’ve got some of Australia’s best surfing coaches, but we’re also really focusing on making it a really culturally safe place for the kids, and ensure that they get a bit more of a takeaway than just the surfing aspects of it.”
Image Credit: Ed Dunens