Not only with the cricket ball, the ace South African fieldsman Jonty Rhodes proved on the beach of Kovalam that he is equally adept on a surf board. The South African cricket legend was at Hawa Beach, Kovalam, on Friday to inaugurate India’s first ever national surfing and stand up paddle (SUP) competition.
The surfing competition attracted 100 or more avid surfers from India and abroad. With this new venture, Kovalam is expected to gain a place in the international surfing scenario.
Inaugurating the function, Jonty Rhodes, who currently enjoys the position of International Surfing Ambassador of India, said: “When cricket players play a great game for the million dollar contracts they sign, surfers do it for the cool factor associated with the sport”.
Kovalam beach buzzed with newfound energy when the cricket fans and surfers patiently waited for their idol. When Jonty arrived, the youngsters welcomed him with loud cheers. “I have been surfing for about 7 to 8 years. I have struggled a little bit. But surfing brings smile to the faces of people whether it is in India, South Africa, Australia or in Europe. Surfing brings out a contentment and it’s about enjoying what we do,” Jonty told the crowd.
He said cricket is a career and involves dedicated work, while surfing is all about having fun. “The surfing community is something that pick on the cool factor, the hairstyle and the way the guys are dressed up and so on. For cricketers, it is a career. You see lots of guys performing on the field but they are actually at work,” Jonty said with a smile.
T M Suresh, convenor of Tourism Protection and Development Council, said the Surfing Federation of India will try to get around 1000 participants next year for the competitions. “If the competitions are during April-May period the Tourism Protection and Development Council will provide all the support for the event,” he said.
Kishore Kumar, president of Surfing Federation of India, recognised by International Surfing Association (ISA) also attended the function.