Surfing Australia has pioneered two surf coaches to the remote Yirrkala community in East Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory to establish a new and exciting surfing initiative.
This initiative aimed to train and up-skill local community members in Surfing Australia’s Level 1 Instructor’s accreditation and also to run a course for the local children to introduce and promote the sport of surfing while offering them a new physical activity to get involved in and enjoy.
All learning materials required for the Instructor course were sent to Yirrkala by Surfing Australia, along with 18 soft surfboards, leg ropes, fins, rash-vests and other essential equipment which were all shipped into Yirrkala courtesy of Toll Marine Logistics.
This extensive equipment base has been left with the community to encourage long term participation and skill development.
Six local community members, including 4 local indigenous community members enrolled in the Surfing Australia level 1 Surf Instructor course that was run over three days. They all successfully completed the requirements and now only have some minor practical components to complete to receive full accreditation.
All six candidates were involved in the surfing lessons run for the local indigenous kids and are all extremely enthusiastic to continue the program and provide weekend surf programs for the local community on a regular basis. This participation was invaluable in providing each of them with firsthand experience in being involved in a surf lesson along with becoming familiar with the elements of running programs in this area.
Every candidate showed an enormous amount of enthusiasm and passion whilst coaching the kids offering the potential to grow surfing’s position and profile in this remote region of Australia.
The surfing program ran over an entire weekend and was open to any local kids that wanted to take part. Most had never surfed before and this experience offered them a completely new physical activity to get involved with. The conditions were perfect for learning in with clean 1ft waves rolling into the beach break and tropical water temperatures!
The first session was scheduled for Saturday morning, and despite this clashing with the local rugby club events, the turnout was tremendous. At the outset, 20 kids showed up to take part with more joining throughout the session after witnessing the other kids having so much fun.
Saturday afternoon was footy training for all of the kids in Yirrkala, so the equipment was packed up for the day following lunch, however on Sunday morning the numbers grew enormously as word spread through the community, with at least 50 local kids surfing throughout the day. A BBQ was provided on the beach for all of the participants at lunchtime and once all of the sausage sandwiches had been eaten the kids were straight back into the surf. Some of the kids would have surfed for at least 6 hours!
There was an amazing amount of local talent, but more importantly a huge amount of fun and exhilaration was had by all. At the end of the day, the surfers had to be pulled from the water, with the instructors calling an end to the surfing as opposed to surfing finishing due to kids walking away having had enough.
The Yirrkala surfing program was a huge success enjoyed by everyone involved. Thank you to the Department of Health & Ageing for providing the funding to establish this program, and to Toll Marine Logistics for providing the transport of equipment to this remote region.