Updated: May 30
Every communities path to economic progress varies in form and scope. In the coastal community of Robertsport, the waves serve as a valuable asset, and surfing is rising to the top of their economic development strategy. This communities desire for income sources is just the beginning of this story, with even more promising opportunities ahead.
Over the last year, a determined team of young adults from the Grand Cape Mount County Surf Association initiated a surf tourism venture called The Robertsport Surf Club. Their aim is to provide comprehensive services to both local and foreign tourists, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable seaside vacation. The business has witnessed a successful beginning, with numerous valuable insights gained and a profusion of positive feedback regarding the friendly surf culture in Robertsport.
The surf-minded group supporting this project all agree with the potential for surf tourism as an economic driver. Still, they also want to ensure the youth in this community have the opportunity for personal development as well. As one donor commented:
"Tourism will be helpful for job creation, but we also want to support the young people of Robertsport with their personal development so they make good choices as their community evolves."
Universal Outreach assisted the surf club in establishing a connection with the International Surf Association (ISA), which the Olympic Committee recognizes as the world authority on surfing. By updating their ISA membership, three Liberian youths from the surf club were given the opportunity to participate in an African Youth Development Surfing Program in Senegal, with all expenses paid by the ISA. The program aimed to equip the athletes with the necessary skills to pursue their Olympic dreams in surfing. The young athletes spent their days training, surfing, improving their skills, and learning how judges score a gold medal wave.
The journey continued with the ISA travelling to Liberia in May to train people in water rescue, surf instruction and competition judging—an agenda that aligned perfectly with the holistic goals of job creation and personal development. 25 youth in Robertsport now have certifications in surf instruction and water rescue, adding to their repertoire of income-generating skills.
With Liberians officially trained to be judges by the ISA, the country now sports certified judges for surf competitions. ISA-certified judges are essential to enable a country’s athletes to participate in qualifying events for the Olympics.
Liberia hosted its first surfing competition judged by certified ISA judges on May 12-14. The event saw surfers from various countries, including São Tomé, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Liberia, and Europe. The enthusiasm of the cheering spectators was infectious and one attendee was so inspired they pledged to provide educational scholarships to local surfers, further elevating the impact of surfing in the region.
To add to this evolving story, the senior surfers in the community started an after-school surf program that offers a safe space and supportive community for kids to release the emotions that can build up in under-resourced communities. You can read more about that program here.
Our thanks goes out to the specific group of Universal Outreach donors who are creating this change in Robertsport. A new vision for the future is emerging thanks to surfing and tourism giving people in this seaside town hope for a better tomorrow.