Show Me The Money.
By Dan Dobbin.
Life has it’s silver linings at times.
As part of my real world employment, I was gifted the opportunity to take a bunch of teenage surfers to the Surfing Australia High Performance Centre at Casurina on the NSW North Coast for two days of analysis and technique development.
Essentially I was paid to surf with the groms and suss out the HPC and the Surfing Australia headquarters..
The High-Performance Centre cost 6 million to fund and build. 2.5 million of that came from the Australian Federal Government, 3 Million from the New South Wales state government.
Under the HPC umbrella Surfing Australia runs national talent camps, localsearch talent ID camps, World Qualifying tour preparation camps, and what they call “International Experiences” where identified surfers are travel overseas with coaches to prepare them for life on the WQS.
They also have their own dedicated television show in mySURF.tv
Inside the sprawling corrugated iron structure you’ll find skate ramps with inflatable landing pads for practising rotations, multiple trampoline set ups and a foam pit for the same purpose.
Pretty clear where they believe the future stand up surfing is at.
There’s also a fully decked out gym, gymnastics area, a store room stocked full of different board models and fins for clients to try, and three vans for transport.
Upstairs; accommodation, kitchen area, an auditorium and rooms for video analysis.
There’s assortments of surf coaches, gymnastics instructors, personal trainer types and corporate suites wandering around.
Essentially, surfers have figured out how to funneled tax payer dollars into helping them sustain and grow their sport. And with surfing now being a recognized Olympic sport, the creeks of gold being directed towards it should continue well into the future.
We all know that the biggest obstacle that holds back bodyboarding is the lack of cashflow and investment. We continually expect board companies or an outside corporate sponsor to magically throw money into the sport.
The reality though is that unless there is an almost immediate return on investment in terms of sales and exposure, we can pretty much bet on only short term relationships with corporate entities.
Despite its higher participantion rates and public profile, stand up surfing itself has been unable to secure a long-term outside corporate sponsor for its premiere platform, the World Surf League tour.
Their world tour only survives because billionaire surfing enthusiast Dirk Ziff drops money to sustain the WSL every year, and all indications are that he’ll be jettisoning the organization in the near future after growing tired of losing cash.
The perfect scenario would obviously be a system from within bodyboarding that would allow the sport to be self sustaining, something like a sales tax on all bodyboarding related purchases to be used for promotion and development, but as of the here and now, that seems unlikely.
Which us brings us back to governments and government funding.
The good news for Australian bodyboarding; as the official governing body of all surfing pursuits in the country, the hard work of infiltrating and convincing governmental types to direct cash towards surf based activities has already been done, the HPC is proof enough of that.
The bad news is we don’t have voice at the table of Surfing Australia, an advocate to speak to our needs and precure and redirect a little cash flow our way.
There were real positive signs happening within the competative bodyboarding community in conjunction with the Bodyboarding Advocacy Movement group earlier this year before the Pangolin pineapple showed up and tipped the world on its head.
It’s a momentum we need to recover. Bodyboarding in Oz needs a selected representative to speak for our interests within Surfing Australia.
We need to develop a network of accredited coaches, preferably at least one in each grassroots club. There’s a whole body of latent employment opportunities in that area alone.
Money is currently being allocated hand over fist by regional and state governments to help restart tourism within the country, money that could be used to stage competitions and coaching clinics and help spread the love of the boog to a wider audience.
There’s cash to be had from government bodies, we just need to put ourselves in a position to access it.