Sandy Alibo spent the past few years building and promoting Surf Ghana, the very first Surf and skate crew to come from Ghana.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT “SURF GHANA” AND HOW
DID IT ALL START?
Surf Ghana is a collective of surfers and skateboarders based in Ghana founded in 2016 by Sandy Alibo. The collective collects used sports equipment in Europe and the U.S and teach the youth how to skate and surf, organize numerous events during the year to promote the surf and skate culture in Ghana.
For example, The Skatetour Gh, Noise!, MASS, Skate Gal Club, are our signature events (for us and made by us). This year, we’ve just started to create a program to develop job opportunities and we team up with brands like Jameson, MTN, United Nations, etc.
It all started in March 2016 in Busua, a fishermen village in the Western Region of Ghana. We met Peter, Ben, Justice all surfers. We started an Instagram account to showcase this beautiful area of Ghana and tell the stories of these new athletes. They received a lot of good feedback on social media about this initiative from Ghana but also from the diaspora living abroad. And with a little elbow grease, we started some surf lessons and skate lessons with the local community.
WHAT IS THE GOAL BEHIND SURF GHANA?
We use the practice of extreme sports as a driver for diversity in education, social inclusion, and empowerment of the youth. Surf Ghana is a voice of diversity that pushes a narrative of freedom and self-expression creating a counter-culture, a platform for the Youth. Our collective also wants to improve physical and mental health. For example in Ghana, life expectancy is currently 63 years, and in Europe, it is 81 years. We think skateboarding and surfing can offer full-body workout and reduce major health problems in Ghana like diabetes and obesity. Also, we create a platform for local artists to promote a culture of tolerance, respect, and celebrate African young creatives.Finally, we teamed up with talented local artists like Art Soul Kojo, Ahmed Partey, David Alabo, Awo Tsegah…
Our main goal is to create a sporting ecosystem that could benefit sports athletes and Ghana as a tourist destination. Plus, our next project is to create the first skatepark in Ghana in 2020: A safe space to practice sport and to connect the youth through art.
WHO ARE THOSE INVOLVED IN THE SURF GHANA PROJECT?
We can count today 25 active members based in Accra, Busua, Krokrobite, Kwahu, Kumasi. They all practice skateboarding or surfing and they also contribute as filmmakers, photographers, writers, artists, journalists, carpenter, mixologists, etc. Joshua, Justice, Kwaku, Addy, Mensah, OG, Sandy, Kuukua, Lauren, Jovita, Harmonie, Sarah, Anastasia, Ria, Ben and many more.
Moreover, we have implemented the process of design thinking in our collective (zero hierarchy, brainstorming culture, test and learn the process, WhatsApp group culture) to grow faster and try a new way to work in Ghana that can directly benefit the youth and help them to be a better entrepreneur. Spmething like a youth leadership program, maybe ?
TELL US ABOUT WOMEN AND SKATEBOARDING IN GHANA?
Skateboarding is new in Ghana. And in the past 5 years, less than 10 girls tried to practice it regularly. Despite the fact that our events were opened to everybody, girls and women didn’t seem interested.
Therefore, seeing this, in June 2019, Sandy Alibo (Founder of Surf Ghana) and Kuukua Eshun (a Ghanaian writer and filmmaker) decided to create the skate girl club, an initiative to empower women through skateboarding. The main goal is to connect creatives women and improve their wellbeing. The access to the club is free and the organization offers skateboarding lessons and also different art workshops (tye and dye tee-shirt, water painting, gardening workshop, nail art) and activities like yoga, hula hoop, soul sister circle, etc. We count now more than 60 active members who come regularly at our monthly meet-up.
This project is a success, we received so much support and positive feedback about this initiative.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE BIRTH OF SKATE TOUR GHANA?
The skate tour is our annual road trip that we plan with 20 Skateboarders, filmmakers, photographers, event managers, web developers, etc.
With the help of the tour, we get the opportunity to meet all kinds of children from different towns that have different backgrounds. We are trying to build a community that children can rely on. For our last trip, we taught up more than 1000 children how to skateboard in exactly 12 days. In the past two years, we toured in Busua, Cape Coast, Cape three points, Takoradi, Abonom, Accra, Kumasi, Peki, Ada, Akosombo, Ho, Keta, Ada, and even Lomé.
We believe, this project has a huge positive impact in the Ghanaian community and above all has encouraged the youth to practice sport to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing. Moreover, we believe traveling is the best way for Ghanaians to discover their own truth.
HOW DO WE GET MORE WOMEN TO PRACTICE SPORTS IN
GHANA, AND IN AFRICA?
For example, the number of attendees at the Skate Gal Club keep increasing and prove than Women-only spaces are a necessity. This, because they provide an opportunity where women can talk about anything from skateboarding to mixology, from fashion to domestic violence and more, all in a “safe space”.
However, for this project, we aren’t attempting to change Ghanaian’s mind about feminism; we’re creating a space where all women can talk about whatever the subject might be.
We also noticed that in Ghana, many women find physical training in the presence of men to be intimidating. Plus, we think that creating this kind of welcoming, inclusive, safe spaces could be handily accomplished by providing exclusive places for women and girls to train.
HOW DO YOU EXPECT SURF GHANA TO IMPACT WOMEN IN
SPORTS AND IN GENERAL?
Our collective craves a space to call women, where they don’t have to feel threatened, hit on, talked over, or mansplained to. Where they can learn from each other, feel positive and get inspired.
We hope that with this project, we can create a better equal representation of women and men.
Through extreme sport, women practice being open and authentically themselves, we think that we help give them the courage to feel more comfortable in Ghana, knowing that a skate gal club is here and got their back.