Surfing has different aspects, but one factor that gets overlooked is how surfing can be, and is, a social fabric that gives a community much more than it realises.
For the past 15 years, surfing has been slowly developing in Phuket and wider Thailand, especially due to the efforts and motivation of a few individuals who have officially had the sport of surfing recognised by the tourism and sporting authorities of Thailand. Now what does this mean?
Twenty years ago, long before the invasion of international hotel chains and mega shopping malls, local Thais would spend their free time at the beach, not so much swimming but utilising the beach for picnics, playing games and relaxing.
At this stage their were only a few local surfers in Phuket, who were originally inspired by watching travellers doing this weird thing in the water.
Since then there has been a lifestyle change – now it’s far more common to see a shopping mall full than the beach.
Chanin Aiyarak, president of Surfing Thailand, expressed a priority to share the ‘stoke’ with his community, to bring back the healthy beach culture that they once enjoyed, and share an experience with the waves that only a surfer can relate to.
Mr Aiyarak said, “Thais love fun and sport, and no doubt if they saw surfing would want to try it, and once knowing the feeling it gives would definitely be hooked”.
Surfing teaches many behavioural and social skills that can be transferable into people’s daily lives, and home, school and work environments.
The ocean puts everyone on a level playing field, brings people back to reality that there is something much bigger out there, and teaches respect.
This is just to wet your thinking appetite, but using surfing as a tool to strengthen communities should be explored.
In the last couple of years there haven’t been a lot of new local Thai surfers, why is this? Surfing Thailand sees a need to focus on the future of the sport and the kids are its future.
With more effort into sharing the benefits of surfing, and educating the local communities about the sport, this positiveness will have a ripple effect through Phuket, and hopefully catch the attention of those who might be able to financially support Surfing Thailand’s efforts to create healthy communities.
They must be doing something right, as they had many visits from a member of the Royal Family, who comes especially to see Phuket’s annual surf contests and surf themself.