“We never thought we could make it surfing. We started with broken boards. Now, thanks to god there are a lot of young surfers coming up. The fact that Italo is here really shines a spotlight on the Senegalese surf scene. Me Joshe and Italo are all similar. We all grew up from disadvantaged backgrounds. We never had it easy, but nothing in our hometowns is easy for anyone. It makes us work harder. We want it more. There are so many people that say that we couldn’t surf. That we don’t have good waves. That surfing isn’t for Africans. Well despite our humble beginnings we’re here—ready to take it to the world” — Cherif Fall
Really enjoyed this look into the wave riding culture in Senegal as experienced by Billabong teammates of Italo Ferreira, Cherif Fall and Joshe Faulkner who describe it as “The nation state of fun waves and all time vibes.” Absolutely lovely people. This is a truly worthwhile viewing experience.
For too long, surfing has been the preserve of the privileged. Those fortunate enough to reside on coastal regions. Those fortunate enough to afford boards and wetsuits. To be fortunate enough to have the surrounding infrastructure to train, to have others go before them. To be lucky enough to live in Southern California. In South West France. In Sydney. To be able to surf all day and not worry about providing for a family. To be home schooled and only focus on ‘pro’ surfing. Barriers to entry that those fortunate to do it wouldn’t even recognise existed; the statement “all you need is a board and a wetsuit” reflecting so acutely the nonchalance of the privileged few.
And yet, we hope those days are behind us. With the amazing work of groups such as Postive Vibe Warriors, Black Girls Surf and Juju surf club to name but a handful. Barriers are being broken down and we hope, with fingers crossed and a collective goodwill in the right direction that not only are the barriers being lowered, but tossed aside as surfing provides a means of empowerment to those less fortunate.
This movement is being lead by examples and role models the world over. Perfectly crystallised with the Billabong stablemates of Italo Ferreira, Cherif Fall and Joshe Faulkner. A far cry from your cookie cutter pro surfers, three real people with three real stories, role models and examples in their own right from their own communities right up to the world stage.
We’d been to Senegal before. The friendliest place we’d ever visited. The nation state of fun waves and all time vibes. So when Billabong called the WT hotline, and rumour reached our ears of a return trip, it wasn’t a though process worth considering—before even asking why we were in. When the why came, on a surprise trip with the World Champ, gold medallist and all round now über superstar Italo Ferreira to visit our old friend Cherif along with Joshe Faulkner—we were in, hook line and sinker. Two weeks later, we land in Dakar, fresh PCR tests in hand. We’re met with by old friends at the airport, a sense of familiarity but ever the presence of the unknown.