A group of surfers from Sydney have reformed the La Perouse Board Riders Indigenous Corporation to offer young Indigenous people a chance to learn how to surf and bond with the wider surfing community.
Matty Page is one of the group’s older surfers. He told NITV News that the group provides surfing gear for local young Aboriginal teens and hopes to provide meaningful activities for young people.
“I feel a lot of the problems come from boredom, so just getting them in the water [helps]. We got a lot of young kids now that are just getting more confident, just by surf and a bit of the brotherhood, so yeah, it ticks a lot of boxes, outside of the surfing component,” he said.
Many of the riders come from Dunghutti and are actually related; some of the cousins feel spiritually connected with the water.
“Our family is known as water people from La Perouse area. Yeah, it’s really important to us, not just the surfing side, but actually you know connection with the ocean. Yeah, it means a lot to all of us,” he said.
The La Perouse Board Riders Indigenous Corporation is hoping to raise funds from sponsors for their trip to the National Indigenous Surfing Titles at Bells Beach in Victoria by the end of the month.
Surfer Ricky Campbell has been with the club since its reformation. He said the group started off with around four people competing in the national title, but the numbers had expanded.
“Roughly about 15 people come with us now, so we have to get some sponsorship and some help to get us all down there. It costs us a bit of money,” Mr Campbell said.
Bryce Liddell is one of the younger surfers who’s been with the boys for a few years. His dad was even a part of the group back in his younger days.
“It used to run years ago when my dad was young, and he used to always tell me stories about it... Eventually they started it up again, so I just put me name in. [I've] been to 3 camps with them,” he said.
The young surfer went to Bells Beach last year for the Indigenous competition and said it’s not only about surfing.
“It’s like a big cultural thing, all different mob comes together, like, you just pretty much… it’s not really competitive, like you can compete competitive, but it’s just pretty much all the mob coming together to have fun and just like surfing,” he said.
Shaun Longbottom has been surfing since he was 10 years old. He said the sponsorship is an important part of attracting these younger kids.
“We’ve got some kids that are coming through, and having it there, that you could possibly score a sponsorship with Billabong or Rip Curl, all those big ones, it’s definitely a goal they can try and achieve,” he said.
He hopes the recent media attention on Indigenous surfer Otis Carey shines a light on the sport and exposes more Aboriginal kids to surfing.
“Otis Carey is the perfect example - he is someone our young kids definitely look up to. He just travels the world surfing, what a great job,” Mr Longbottom said.