WATCH | This surf school is bringing girls on board to reduce inequality in the sport

In the Masiphumelele township in Cape Town, children face numerous difficulties. Basic needs such as schooling and food are often inaccessible.

Surfer Daniel Botha found a way to carve a brighter future for disadvantaged youth. “By connecting kids with the beauty and power of the ocean, they can realise their own potential,” he says.

In 2015, Botha established the non-profit Surfpop, which combines surfing, education, and nutrition. But although it was aimed at all youth from the township, the programme was male-dominated.

When Céline Hoeks joined the initiative, she spurred a change that is bringing girls on board.

Through Surfpop, children have been able to hit the beach for weekly surf sessions, benefit from Maths, English, and computer classes, and receive nutritious meals.

Despite this, Hoeks noticed that fewer girls were joining. Working to develop the initiative, she uncovered that the girls’ lack of participation wasn’t because the sport didn’t exhilarate them – instead they yearned for a woman instructor and the chance to learn on their own time.

With a separate programme, the girls now receive beach yoga classes, can interact more with other girls, and feel safer in the ocean with extra support.

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Surfpop is giving girls a platform to be healthy and form a connection with the natural world.

They are also offered assistance in enrolling in tertiary education and obtaining a job.

“The best part about what we do is that we create long-term opportunities for the children,” Botha says. Through surfing, girls are building their self-assurance and resilience. “It opens up a world of possibilities,” Hoeks says.

Footage by Surfpop was used in the creation of this film.