CHENNAI: As the music gets louder and food stalls more crowded, at the seventh edition of the Covelong Surf festival, Sekar Pachai runs to meet the young surfers he trains.
“In ten years, I want at least one of them to take part in the Olympics. That is my biggest dream,” he says.
Currently, Sekar has represented India in three world championships and nine international tournaments so far. He’s travelled to Fiji, Switzerland, Denmark and China among other countries for surfing training and tournaments.
Hailing from the fishing hamlet in the neighbourhood, Sekar has neither been to college nor school, however, doesn’t remember a week that he hasn’t surfed in the beach or trained.
“I’ve been a fisherman, a share auto driver and many other things. But I’ve never stopped being a surfer since I was a child,” he said.
He recalls jumping into the waves and riding them with his body almost every evening with friends. “There was just one surfboard in the village and we would get to use it, only once a month,” he said.
Nearly 15 years later, with a surfing school in the area, things have changed drastically for the kids from the fishing hamlets nearby.
“TT Group, which built the school, sponsored all my endeavours, from training to competitions and stay. However, there are tons of local talent and it is impossible to find sponsors for all of them unless the government takes the initiative to formalise the sport and support it,” he said.
Sekar says, “We often get international training opportunities for our children. However, we do not have the funds to sponsor their travel. The government must step in to encourage talent.”