INDIA might not spring to mind when it comes to surfing but a Currumbin instructor has started a groundswell of interest among youngsters which he hopes will catch on quicker than a knick to the slips.
Walk-in On Water surf school founder Jamo Borthwick created the Breaking Poverty Through Surf program at Mangalore in the south western Indian state of Karnataka 12 months ago.
Through his surf school, he is not only giving youngsters a brand new sporting interest but he is also teaching beach and water safety and confidence.
"I started the program while visiting Mangalore and saw that the kids there knew nothing about surfing nor did they have the ability to handle themselves in the water,” Jamo said.
"The place has a great beach and is popular with the locals but they knew nothing about surf safety.
"In fact, it was very shortly after I arrived there that there was an incident in the ocean and we actually saved six young people, five in the one family.
"India has a huge coastline but very little in terms of lifeguards and adequate training for them.
"The surf schools are as much about teaching kids to surf as it is about teaching water safety and building their confidence.
"It also provides them with a fresh outlook on life, knowing that there are other possibilities to make a living - like being involved in surfing.”
Jamo said he had initially paid for the boards and equipment like rashies out of his own pocket and was now looking to return next month (December) and was looking for donations of old boards of all sizes, any unwanted lifeguard/life saving equipment and surf gear to be loaded into a container to take back.
"I would early like to take some old lifesaving paddle boards and some old stand up paddle boards and paddle back this time to encourage them kids further and promote lifeguard skills,” he said.
"The age groups we work with are from six to around 18 and to see the joy on their faces when they catch waves is very rewarding.
Through his efforts, many of his students had a chance to compete in the Indian Open Surfing competition in May with some placing in their age groups.
Jamo said he needed to have the container of equipment packed and ready to go by December 3 and he would be returning to Mangalore on December 11 to prepare for the next school in the new year.
Anyone wanting to donate boards or equipment could contact Jamo on 0418 780 311 or via email at email@example.com
To find out more about the program visit www.walkinonwater.com/breaking-poverty-help-wanted/