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Masters and Servants

Masters and Servants

by Craig Jarvis / 22.06.2012

Surfing isn’t one of the big sports in South Africa. It pales in significance next to the three greats like rugby, soccer and cricket, and compared to other countries like Australia, it is totally marginalized. Australia, to continue the comparison, rates surfing right up there alongside mainstream sports like rugby and cricket, despite the fact that they’ve only produced three world titles in the last 20 years. But the Aussie surfers are looked after. Which is more than can be said for their South African counterparts. Surfing Australia is well-funded as their new 33 million rand High Performance Centre will attest. The PR claims it as “the world’s first facility dedicated to the development of elite surfers and coaches. The cutting edge facility will ensure Australia maintains its place as a world leader in the sport.”

To bring it back home, in South Africa, surfing gets some funding from the Lotto and some from the department of Sports and Recreation. These funds are mainly used to send our top surfers to compete at various international contests. Surfing South Africa attracts this funding because they tick all the right boxes – they have transformation and development programs firmly in place and they follow through with this on all levels, nurturing a new school of top surfers as well as top surfing judges and officials.

Sometimes our teams do good, sometimes they don’t. But one of the most successful areas for South African surfing, is the SA Masters team. Their track record reads as such:
2010 – Panama. Three world champions in Andrew Banks, Chris Knutsen and Heather Clark
2008 – Peru – Three world champions in Marc Wright, Chris Knutsen, Heather Clark. Winning Masters Champion team – South Africa
2007 – Puerto Rico – One world champion in Chris Knutsen and winning masters World Champion team – South Africa.

At the Masters level, in the last 5 years, South Africa has delivered seven world champions and two World Champion teams. That’s better than we’ve ever done in any sport bar the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and 2007.

But this year we cannot expect to get such good result. This year our masters need R37,000 each to compete in the ISA Masters event in Nicaragua this year, but none of them can afford it and so the team have pulled out. It’s a crying shame. There is not even partial funding available, which could then be supplemented by the surfers themselves.

To better understand the injustice, let’s make some comparisons. Funding is needed for 8 surfers and 2 officials. Understood it is a tricky time, with the Olympics and the recession and all. But bear in mind that the Olympians have received funding for a team of 110 athletes, as well as about 52 registered officials: coaches, managers and video analysts. That’s a lot of officials; almost one official for every two athlete. It’s pretty obvious where the Department of Sport and Recreation are spending their money this year. But with that number of officials you can be sure there are a couple of “fluffers” on the list.

To continue our rant on the unfairness of it all, last week’s ANC Youth Day Celebration in Port Elizabeth, that president Jacob Zuma decided to skip, was nicely funded to the tune of R2.2 million Rand. This in a province that has 37% unemployment. Add to this, the fact that Lotto still haven’t paid the Eastern Cape Surfing Council the funding contractually agreed to and promised, since 2010. Just saying.

Our surfers aren’t going to Nicaragua to compete. It’s not going to happen. We’re not going to get the miracle funding from Lotto, we’re not going to get the go ahead from Sport and Recreation, and our world champion surfers are staying at home for the first time in many years. At least we have good waves here. Thank fuck for that.

*Opening image of Masters World Champ surfer Heather Clark © ASP/Pierre Tostee.

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RESPONSES (9)
  1. Tommy Tucker Lawson says:

    Absalute crying shame…. Corruption and theiving politicians stealing the loot….that’s where the money is going….. Suck on that ANC theives…

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  2. kerry says:

    …..and the 17 million for a one hour act for the sports awards -from whats her name “Beyound our say” and our sports Minister see no problem with that.

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  3. Nick says:

    There is powerful rule that binds the internet: “Every single comment section on a south african webpage will eventually degenerate into ANC bashing”. I didn’t expect to find an article on surfing reach that stage so quickly.

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  4. John says:

    This is such same! These guys really deserve to be able to represent their country and a World Champion should always be supported and given the chance to defend their title… I have one question, R37 000 is on the steep side. Ive traveled and surf all over the world and not even a 10 day Mentatwai boat trip cost me that much. Could that not be budgeted more? Then subsidised to some degree by Lotto…

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  5. pierre says:

    yeah, the surfers do way better than one of the “top 3 sports” namely SOCCER, they don’t have the same prima donna fail tactics, and are generally a better breed of humanity than all sport disciplines combined!

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  6. Gary says:

    This is a huge letdown for SA sport. I wouldnt go as far saying the ANC is responsible, because the previous Nat government didnt really give a shit about surfing either, but stuff did work better back then.

    That said my rant is not about politics or race even, its about the big bucks that the huge multinational surf brands throw away on sponsoring main stream surfers and events and not much goes to the amateur or development ranks. I mean, seriously, just 5% of Jordy’s or any other top sponsored surfers travel and wage budget could cover the complete cost of a trip like has been cancelled. invariably the sponsorships they do give are team clothes, boards, etc, etc, no where near what they are capable of pumping back into the sport. They had better start seeing it in a different light tho’ because as they ignore the lower ranks more and more, so their market share will deteriorate even more. Sucks for the team, and these guys seem to get better results worldwide than the pro’s too.

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  7. Sandra says:

    That is soooo sad unbelievable but it happens surfing not supported in this country as it is not a huge spectator sport and the government don’t relate to it although our SA surfers do so well ans South Africa gets so much exposure through them very sad occasion

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  8. Dave Renaud says:

    This can,t happen again,start fund raising now for next year,have a big whip round and ask the surf industry to chuck in a bit!
    What a bummer.

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  9. Mark says:

    I feel for you guys in South Africa not competing in the ISA masters in Nicaragua. Your team are highly competitive and always put on a good show. But just to let you guys know, here in Australia, we receive NO funding EVER to compete in the ISA Masters. We are all totally self funded. Our governing body here invites you to attend then gives you a uniform and the rest is up to you. If you cant afford it, we dont go. Its disgusting that the Australian Surfing Association doesnt even attempt to help our surfers get there, yet they have a new multi million dollar building and new jetskis, new computers and brand new fleet of 4wds for the staff to drive. Hope you guys can make it next year, and hope funding is available to you and one day, to us here in Australia

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