Three young Solwota Sistas from the Vanuatu Surfing Association (VSA) will be competing in the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota High School Teams Challenge to be held on Tuesday 14th February and Wednesday 15th February at Merewether Beach in Newcastle, Australia.
Zaridah Taleo, 14, Methusarah Kalran, 12, and Angisi Mania, 12, have only been surfing for about two years and will be the only Pacific Island team attending the event.
This will be the VSA’s second team of all girls to compete at Surfest and it is the girls’ very first time to travel to Australia. The young girls are at the forefront of female surfing in the country and are building on the success of the VSA’s development program for girls and women, run under the brand of Solwata Sista.
‘The VSA has dedicated the past year and this year to vigorously driving our vision to seeing more women and girls surfing. These three girls and every girl who now surfs are a testament of the success of our women’s program addressing the gender inequality in Vanuatu by empowering women through surf,’ says Stephanie Mahuk, president of the VSA.
‘Solwota Sista demonstrates that regardless of surf being a male dominated sport, they can aspire to surf, achieve that skill and excel notwithstanding their gender. This is a powerful message for women and girls that we hope they will apply to their lives and change the landscape where they are currently marginalized.’
Surfest is one of Australia’s top surfing festivals incorporating a wide range of surf events held in Newcastle, Australia during February each year. The Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota High Schools Team Challenge sees high schools teams form more than 50 metropolitan and regional high schools throughout the state come to Newcastle for the biggest high schools surfing event in NSW.
Since 2012, the VSA has had the privilege of being invited to participate showcasing the developing talent of Vanuatu.
The VSA’s involvement in Surfest predominantly focuses on offering local surfers, particularly from the rural villages, exposure to a different culture through travelling. It is an opportunity they otherwise might not have the opportunity to experience.
Not only are the girls excited to travel overseas for the first time, they are looking forward to the opportunity to meet and greet professional surfers on the World Surfing League 2017 tour.
GOOD LUCK SISTAS!
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Photo credit: Arlene Bax