From the streets of South Africa to Oceanfest

South African street children are finding a path to a better life through surfing.

South African street children are finding a path to a better life through surfing. - Credit: Archant

Some special visitors — former Durban street children — will be competing at this weekend’s GoldCoast Oceanfest in Croyde from Friday through to Sunday.

A South African surfing team with a difference is competing at this weekend’s GoldCoast Oceanfest in Croyde from Friday through to Sunday.

All of the riders are former street children who grew up in poverty in Durban, but found brighter futures through the Umthombo Street Children project and now as adults tour the world as part of the surfing team Surfers Not Street Children.

While in North Devon they will visit several local schools including Ilfracombe Academy, Pilton and Park, as well as Georgeham Primary School.

They will also be working with Croyde Surf Life Saving Club and teaching at South West Surf School.


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Their visit fits in well with the ethos of the region’s premier surf, music and lifestyle festival of Oceanfest, which each year sees people from across the globe arriving to compete, perform or just soak up the atmosphere.

“Having worked with street children over the past 21 years, it became that fusing high intensity activities with psychosocial support was critical in giving these children an alternative path to the dangers and addictions of street life,” explained project and team founder Tom Hewitt MBE, a former surfer from the ULK.

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“This is the model Umthombo uses and is the message that Surfers not Street Children promotes. The Surfers Not Street Children surf team is a chance for the rest of society to see the potential in every one of these children and support them.”

Popular sports including beach soccer and volleyball return this year, as does skate-boarding, Ultimate Frisbee, surf life saving, Ironman and Diamond Lady events, plus the Nipper Challenge and Beach Aquathon.

A high quality line up of music will see rising star Bastille, already a firm festival favourite, headlining a busy day of music on Saturday that also includes Gabrielle Aplin and The Other Tribe, plus many more.

The Friday night will be capped off by the talented Xavier Rudd, as well as Willy Mason and the Stringer Bessant Band, among others.

Sunday afternoon is headlined by Novocane, but before that there is a strong line up of visiting and local talent, with Dan Greenaway, Peter Bruntnell and Woodford Green just a few of the quality names on offer.

A bustling arena and trade village will see top brands, food from around the world and fantastic skate and bike demos to take the breath away.

The ‘village’ also features a variety of interactive stalls and activities from local and national organisations such as the National Trust, RNLI and many more.

For ticket information and much more, visit www.goldcoastoceanfest.co.uk

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