"NO SCHOOL , NO SURFING''
The Kovalam Surf Club is located in Kovalam, Kerala, India and was founded in 2005 in line with the vision of SISP. SISP has been active in the area since 1996 and tries to improve the harsh living conditions of the poorest by offering them free education, medical care, food and financial support, training and working in handicraft units.
The idea of the Kovalam Surfclub is to keep the children of SISP and the surrounding areas off the streets after school and to act as an extra motivation to continue their education. The main rule to participate in the surf classes is: "No school - No surfing!"
The surf club started off with 3 old boards and 5 to 10 kids, eager to become good surfers. The beginning was hard, as the kids weren’t used to take care of the equipment, especially if it had a certain value. So every week there were boards to be fixed, but the children learned how to repair the boards themselves and figured out it was hard work, so they became more careful.
Today, the Kovalam Surf Club has around 40 members and, as a registered sports club, is the first official surf club in India. Thanks to our sponsors and befriended surfers we now have a surfboard for every child and an appropriate surfing outfit. The children have their own clubhouse, where we keep our equipment and slip into our surf shorts.
All members of the surf club are local boys and girls from Kovalam and the surrounding villages. Surfing has had a positive influence on their lives because it makes them proud and happy for being good at something. The key point is that all the surfing kids come to school regularly and therefore will get a better chance in succeeding in life in a more humane way.
Foreign tourists as well as locals are impressed by the surf skills of the local surfers and are really stoked on riding the waves as well. The demand for surf lessons has never been so high. Some of the older boys, who have finished their school career, are now able to make a proper living out of surfing by offering surf lessons, guided surf tours, board rental and repair.
Our surf club is unique because all the money made with the surf tourism flows back directly to the local community. Our staff is being paid a decent wage in order to establish a better life for themselves and their families. And with our business profits we invest in local talent: supporting them to compete in national and international competitions, training programs and surf instructor certifications.
Of course, we hold on to our non-commercial roots and keep on offering free surf lessons to local children from below-poverty-line families. Many surfers have experienced the look in the eyes of the local children in less fortunate places in the world, while we are having fun in the water with their waves. Here, with the Kovalam Surf Club, we try to make sure that having fun in the ocean is no longer a right reserved for the lucky few, but can become a passion for all!