Surf's Up! - Jamaica wants own surf coaching certification
Surfing is alive and well, says Jamaica Surfing Association president Billy Wilmot, when recently quizzed on the present status of the sport locally.
Wilmot told The Gleaner that over the last year the increase in the number of youngsters gravitating to the sports has more than tripled, and the association intends to make the most of the moment.
He is also pushing for the country's own coaching certification course, as the present requirement is to go through the Australian Surfing Association (ASA) to obtain a surf coach certification.
"The Jamaica Surfing Association has been revitalised, as a lot of young surfers have entered the sport over the last three years; also a huge number of 'learn to surf' people, both male and female, are taking to surf lessons," Wilmot said. "Usually, we used to cater for five or six surfers a week coming for lessons. Now we have about 15 to 25 surfers a week, so when we host competitions there is an increase in amateur surfers, and as a result our professional competitions also run amateur divisions for the past two years.
"These young surfers are not at the professional level to be in competition with the experienced ones, so we had to include an amateur division, and it is not based on age but skill level," he commented.
In order to take advantage of the present local interest in surfing, Wilmot is working to establish the nation's first certified coaching course.
"The certification process for coaches is establish by the ASA. In order for us to access that, it requires they pay U$100 a year to maintain and upgrade their status," he explained
"So we realised it is in the interest of the Jamaica Surfing Association to establish a coaching course, one that we administrate and accredit here for first-year courses.
"Eventually, we want our coaches to have the capacity to seek and attain international standards and have careers as international surf coaches. The same thing applies for our judges. We are looking at establishing through the Jamaica Surfing Association some Jamaica standardisation so we can take advantage of this influx of beginner surfers," added Wilmot.
"We are looking at a feasibility study for importing an international standard coach. All this will be included in a four-year development plan we are putting together to submit to the Olympic Solidarity Fund. But the time is ripe and it's the brightest we have seen it (surfing) for many years," said Wilmot.