The 9th of April was the 7th Unravel Surf Travel Outreach Day and I was very happy to see all six Surfer Kids attend. Two days earlier I visited a friend, Charles, from Surf Toyz in York Street, George. Charles is organising a novice surf contest on the 2nd of May in Buffalo Bay and he asked me to bring along our group of Surfer Kids. Exciting news!
Once on the beach I told the kids about the upcoming contest and it had the most amazing influence on their behaviour in the water. All of them wanted to paddle and catch their own waves! Whereas previously they often wanted us to push them into waves, all of a sudden it seemed as if they actually preferred doing it on their own.
Could this have anything to do with the fact that they do not want to be seen receiving help in a competitive scenario where perhaps the other kids will not be helped?
I made it very clear to the Surfer Kids that this was a novice competition specifically for absolute beginners and that the other parents will also be helping their kids by pushing them into waves. I explained this to the Surfer Kids and I also explained that nobody has to compete. Only those that want to compete should enter.
The experience made me think. Personally I have always been suspicious of competition. Especially when it comes to something like Surfing, an art that exudes freedom. Why did I enter the Surfer Kids into the contest and even offer pay for half their R50 entrance fee? Just because I wanted them to meet other Surfer Kids? Perhaps there was more to this…
Competition can have some very positive side effects. If it is approached from the right angle.
Up until now the Surfer Kids simply enjoyed surfing. But after a lot of encouragement it soon becomes clear that the drive and motivation to push themselves further than before, must come from within.
No matter how much I spoke they would have to decide for themselves that “Today I am going to paddle into a bigger wave than I have ever paddled into before. Maybe I am scared, but I want to do it!”
That motivation cannot be put there by me.
This is what competition is all about. Competition was never supposed to be about winning or losing. Competition is all about finding a reason to push yourself further than you have ever gone before. Why? For the sake of experience.
What always kept me suspicious of competition was that in our society it is rarely a choice. It almost happens by default. “Oh, so you want to be a professional surfer? So how many competitions have you won?”
It is as if the two are inseparable. But why should one compete to make a living from something that you love? I mean, I know that it is difficult to make a living from any sport unless you compete, but should this necessarily be so? Maybe there are other ways.
If entering into a contest is a choice, winning or losing is nothing compared to discovering something new within yourself.
Some of the biggest victories are often disguised as a loss because often it is the loser that learns more about himself, whereas the winner often simply repeats what he already knew. Until the winner becomes the loser and he must then rise to the occasion, dig deeper within himself and up his game to once again become a winner.
To lose a competition should be celebrated as much as winning one for both present equal opportunities to discover yourself anew.
So the Surfer Kids are starting to discover that Surfing is perhaps one of the best vehicles of self exploration there is. It takes place in unfamiliar territory and it literally requires that you paddle through the waves before you can surf the waves.
So we have awoken the drive to go further. And that was always the aim. A commitment to personal development.
Here is to the future and the personal development of all people!
Also a big Thank You to Jenya for the beautiful photos and Thank You to Andries from Dunn Surfboards for helping with the coaching!