Young Indigenous surfers from across Australia are set to reunite at Lennox Head, on Bundjalung Country, as part of the inaugural Surfing Australia First Nations Youth High Performance Program.
The athletes, aged between 12 and 18, will attend a five-day camp where they’ll hone their skills at various beach breaks and take part in cultural sessions, guided by an all-Indigenous Committee.
Committee spokesperson, Rory Togo said: “We couldn’t be more excited for the second camp. The kids have had a chance to bond like a small family unit over camp one and can’t wait to reunite. Camp two we will really start to focus on the high performance aspect of our programming.”
Gumbaynggirr – Bundjalung man Otis Carey, attended the first camp in Victoria and returns as a Surf Mentor to the youth.
“Growing up there was nothing really like this. I only knew about three other Indigenous surfers. I never had many other Indigenous role models to look up to. If I had something like this when I was younger, I feel like I would’ve excelled in my personal life and in my surfing life. It’s just a great way for Indigenous kids to connect with other Indigenous surfers. It’s great there’s a cultural aspect to the program as well.”
Otis said the future of Indigenous surfing was bright.
“Some of the kids are surfing so well. I can definitely see a few getting on Tour, if they stick to it.”
The First Nations Youth High Performance Program camp is proudly sponsored by the Norm J Innis Charitable Foundation and major partner Billabong with support from Mark Richards Surfboards, FCS and Surfboard Empire.
About the program:
16 surfers have been selected for the Surfing Australia First Nations Youth High Performance Program using a combination of event results and surfer potential.
Each surfer will have an individual High Performance plan that prioritises wellbeing and cultural identity, valuing the voice of the young person and their families. The plan includes strength and conditioning training, sports psychology, life skills, trick acquisition, goal setting and other support as required.
First Nations Youth HPP athletes:
· Kyroan O’Donnell (Noosa, QLD)
· Landen Smales (Noosa, QLD)
· Tatum Pratten-Eggins (Newcastle, NSW)
· Hunter Winkler (Coffs Harbour, NSW)
· Braith Wilson (Coffs Harbour, NSW)
· Zane Silvester (Duranbah, QLD)
· Joe Murray (Coffs Harbour, NSW)
· Kaiden Smales (Noosa, QLD)
· Taj Simon (Snapper Rocks, QLD)
· Maggie Shaw (Lancelin Ledge Point, WA)
· Indy Slattery (Currumbin Alley, QLD)
· Kauri Heuston-Connor (Burleigh Pt, QLD)
· Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW)
· Bel Gee (Ocean Grove, VIC)
· Bodhi Simon (Snapper Rocks, QLD)
· Meg Day (Moonta, SA)