"First it is based on surf and what surf brings us as an element of learning for our day-to-day. When we surf we face multiple challenges. Many times the sea is bad and we get in it, other times the sea is big and even with fear we risk to enter, other times the sea is perfect and we cannot catch waves, or we catch up but we fall. We have to be resilient, we have to overcome our fears, we have to be cautious and responsible, we have to respect the sea, and then there are the unforgettable moments, the wave in our life that we will remember forever. The fear that becomes the sensation of doing something that seemed impossible to us. This is what surfing brings us and that we can transfer to our professional life. We therefore believe that through surfing we can help children, young people and adults to improve their lives."
We met with Antonio from Surf Social Wave association, located in Portugal. A social program based on individual and group coaching, targeting unemployed people, to let them grow personally and professionally. A great example to follow!
When and where did you start surfing?
I started surfing back in 1987 in Lisboa area; between Sesimbra and Ericeira
What's your background?
I have a degree in Philosophy, a post-graduation in Marketing a diploma in Advanced Management of the Sea Economy, among others. I am since a young age an entrepreneur.
When did you get more serious and involved in surfing and want to create an organization?
After finishing university I decided that I want to work in the Surfing. This was back in 1995. It where different times. I was able at first, to work in Adrenalina which was the main surf event company in Portugal at that time. In 2001 I started my own company Alfarroba that turns out to organize the main surf events in Portugal and contribute to the promotion and growth of the surf scene. On that way my company managed the first surf portal in Portugal, we create the only free surf magazine, had a surf school.
Me, personally wrote two books on surfing – Portugal Surf Guide (2012/2017) the first complete Portugal surf guide and Surfing-The Next Step (2018)
A book for those people who come out of the surf schools but know very few about Surfing Culture both in English and Portuguese and last year I release my first novel Salvadores.
Around mid-2016 I decided that my work, as a business entrepreneur in surfing should come to an end. I have done all that I dreamed off and a little more. It was time to give back.
What was your motivation to initiate the project, Surf Social Wave?
When I started to think about this project my main motivation was to give back part of what surfing has given me along the years. Not only in professionally but mainly on a personal level, the possibility to surf with my kids, traveling, meet people, and most of all riding waves.
How is your organization different from others?
I believe we are the only organization worldwide that uses surfing as a tool to empower people towards employment.
The program we create is innovative, out of the box and presents results. More than 70% of the people that participate in our Programa Surf para a Empregabilidade are able to find their dream job or star their own business in a six to twelve month period.
What's the mission of Surf Social Wave?
The Surf Social Wave Project promotes the social inclusion of children, young people and adults through the practice of surfing and access to the professions that make the surfing ecosystem. For us, surfing is more than just a sport, it is a way of life. We aim to influence children, young people and adults in situations of social fragility with the values and learnings of surfing.
What's your best moment, memory you had with Surf Social Wave?
It is hard to pinpoint one specific moment. Since we started it has been a rollercoaster of inspiring moments, some just as simple as someone catches the first wave and you know that they changed forever others of people that strive to start their own project or find their dream job.
With the Covid, is it your biggest challenge with Surf Social Wave?
Last year was the year of the lemonade. We had so many lemons thrown at us that we needed to adapt really quickly. I can tell you some.
The first one was that we loose all our revenues in march ( we have a surf school that bring us some money and we organize the bodysurf competition in Portugal – both were lost). On top of this we realize that the people we aim to serve unemployed were growing and we need it to step up to serve them. This said we transform our Program from live to online with the conviction we were doing the right thing but with very few experience. In the end it was a good call and both programs we did online were a success. In the mean time we won an application from the Portugal Inovação Social – a fund from the EU that allow us to carry on with our mission until the end of 2022. We were able to succeed mainly because of the people that work with me in this project. Also very important were the support of our partners Cascais City Hall, Nova SBE, Randstad, Billabong Portugal, Sushi at Home, Way Beyond, among others.
With the Covid, how do you manage to keep you and your followers motivated ?
It is easy to keep people motivated when you are helping another human being.
How is it to grow your organization during a Pandemic?
During the Pandemic our prime goal was to consolidate our program. And in fact the conditions presented that opportunity.
What are your future plans for Surf Social Wave?
At this stage we want to do 4 programs a year to unemployed people. We also are looking to find different ways to finance our mission, we fell that not only we need to have multiple sponsors as we need to be able to support our mission with more revenues besides the surf lessons and the bodysurf competition.
What's your advice for others who want to start an organization related to surf?
Be passioned and objective driven.
How can we get involved in the Surf Social Wave?
Every help is welcomed. Get in touch. We are always ready to find a way to work. We believe in a collaborative world.
Your favorite surf spot?
That’s a really hard question. More than a surf spot I have amazing memories from different waves in different places. Either is an amazing tube ride in Carcavelos or a perfect left in L-Point, down south or surfing with Turtles in Papa Gente in Bahia.
If you had the opportunity to go on a surf trip, where would it be and why?
Hawaii for sure. I have being postponed for long.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell a little bit about our story. Hope you liked it. Boas ondas