Former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes has hailed the growth of surfing as a sport in the country while speaking at the sidelines of the Tamil Nadu International Surf Open - a World Surf League QS 3000 event - currently being held in Mahabalipuram.
Arun Vasu, the president of the Surfing Federation of India, said, “The WSL is like the ATP tour in tennis. We have 16 men and five women from India participating in the event. We conducted a series of events in Mangalore, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram and Covelong, and the top three scorers were given wildcards for the WSL event.”
Rhodes has been at the forefront of promoting surfing in the country and said, “Ten years ago, when we started the Covelong Surf and Music Festival, there was not much idea about it. But now you have so many surfing schools that have come up, and the junior surfers coming through are quite competent.”
“To have a WSL event is a great effort, and it can also help boost tourism,” he added.
Making a case for surfing to improve wellness, Rhodes explained, “There are physical and emotional benefits in doing Surfing. It is a great way to improve your flexibility, build a strong core and a great cardio exercise. It also helps you relax mentally because you are only focussing on the board.”
“Recently, I got a few of the players from Lucknow Super Giants to do surfing, and they enjoyed it a lot.”
Commenting on the upcoming 50-over World Cup, the 53-year-old said, “I think with so many players in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the conditions here are not so foreign for teams like Australia, England or South Africa. Most sides are balanced, and any team on its day could do well.”
“South Africa has a lot of exciting talent coming up and has good depth. Our domestic cricket suffered a bit when we lost a lot of seniors to Kolpak deals. For youngsters coming through, it is important to go up against and learn from senior players, and that was missing. But things are looking good now, and even the public response to the SA T20 was terrific,” he said.
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