Despite its geographical position, which exposes Senegal to the waves of the north and south, and the conformity of its coasts, which allow a variety and an exceptional quality of waves, the surf is very little followed and sustained. The lack of funding for niche sports such as surfing is topical in Senegal, as well as the difficulty for practitioners to be able to find the equipment (board, combination, accessories) on site and at affordable prices.
Having your own board and a winter wetsuits without holes is a real privilege for local surfers.
Every winter, lots of children and youth ask for a wetsuits. They are even ready to wear two wetsuits with holes one on the top of the other one; the young people of the village of Yoff or Ngor share a broken board with each other or take turns surfing a new board.
This board in the picture here was repaired many and many times and it was surfed by three kids at the same period.
Most surfers in Senegal belong to the Lebou coastal ethnic group and come from fishing families. They are often very large families, where children share their youth between fishing, family tasks and surfing.
Some parents have understood that school education, can give some children a chance to escape from the life of a fisherman (whose income keeps decreasing due to overfishing and illegal fishing) and build another future.
In this case families ask us to take over the child’s schooling to help them finance, since the child will be able to participate in a limited way in the home expenses.
In more severe cases where parents cannot accept that the child is regularly in school and not fishing, we try to integrate it into some support courses within the CSA.
The domain of the sea is by stereotype, a domain for men: either for fishing or for sport.
The sea is considered dangerous, and surfing is still quite a privilege for those who have the courage to go down the waves, row against the currents and are not afraid to fall on the rocks.
When a girl has that courage, she is highly respected among the surfer community, but she is not necessarily appreciated once in family life, because she is seen as a girl-like-a-boy.
To fight this image at the national level, the project wants to push more girls to surf and to compete, as there are three spots for girls in the National Surfing Team and Championship category for girls, called Ondines.