Liberia Becomes the Ninth ISA Member Nation From the African Continent
Liberia is working toward a future removed from its troubled past—and doing so through surfing.
Eight years removed from its last civil war, the country has a growing tourism industry, part of which circulates around its 350 miles of pristine, white-sand coastline in Western Africa. It was for that reason and the hope of continuing to increase surfing’s presence in the country that it applied and was accepted to become the ISA’s 71st Member Nation.
The ISA has recently undertaken the goal of growing surfing throughout the continent of Africa.
In March, the ISA sent a representative to Mali to address an audience of national Olympic delegates at the Africa International Sports Convention (CISA). In his presentation, Marcos “Bukao” Esmanhoto, the ISA’s Contest Director and an Executive Committee member, outlined the ISA’s efforts to develop surfing throughout the continent, touching on the potential social and economic implications of having a blossoming surf scene. Following the presentation, he received a resounding applause from the roomful of representatives from each of the continent’s 53 countries.
“At the ISA we are aware of all the good that surfing has done as a social, economic and cultural force for a better world. It’s a sport and a lifestyle that breeds opportunity and positive energy for practioners and fans alike,” said Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA. “We know that surfing can function as a tool, a vehicle, for positive change on several levels. I’m so happy that Liberia has recognized the benefit of surfing and of working with the ISA. We’re excited to help them develop the sport in their country.”
“I’m happy for Liberia, for its citizens, and of course, I’m happy that surfing has started the ‘ride’ in Liberia,” Aguerre continued. “This is all good news for the peace loving people in that part of Africa.”
When Aguerre became president and chairman of the ISA in 1994, the organization had just 31 member nations. He radically altered the face and action of the ISA, aiming to grow its impact and recognition throughout the world. The addition of Liberia brings the total number of member nations to 71, nine of which are from Africa. Along with Liberia, Cape Verde, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa are member nations of the ISA.
Part of the presentation to CISA included the goal to raise the number of ISA member nations on the continent from eight to 15 by the end of 2013. The ISA also hopes to raise its total number of member nations around the world to 100.
While all of the current African ISA Member Nations have a coastline, with the way surfing has evolved around the increasing popularity of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), having a coastline is no longer critical to creating a surf culture. As long as there is a large body of water, surfing and the lifestyle its embodies can prosper.
For instance, Uganda and Niger both have large lakes within their boundaries, which could host SUP and paddleboard races. With the right winds, it’s possible that waves can break, much as they do in the Great Lakes, which has helped to generate a surfing scene in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in the United States. The nearest ocean coastline to Sheboygan is nearly 750 miles away.
“The stoke for riding waves continues to expand around the world,” Aguerre said. “Liberia’s membership is part of a strong push at the ISA to develop the sport of surfing in Africa.”
About the International Surfing Association
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running Open Division World Championships since 1964, Junior World Championships since 1980, and Masters World Championships since 2007. The ISA also sanctions the World Kneeboard Titles and the Tandem Surfing World Title, and will hold the World Bodyboard Championship in 2011, and the first World Standup Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 70 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in San Diego, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro and re-elected seven times since. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Alan Atkins (AUS), Karín Sierralta (PER), Debbie Beacham (USA) and Layne Beachley (AUS).
More on www.isasurf.org