Team SA is raring to go for the upcoming 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championships in California but still needs assistance and funding support.
For the first time, South Africa will be sending a team of nine male and five female para surfers and six support team members to the championships.
The contest will see the world’s best para surfers come together for a week of fierce surf competition from Sunday December 4 until Sunday December 11.
The overall total needed to get the entire team to California is R1 019 000.
To date, they have raised R680 724.65, and are now in need of raising a final R338 276, to ensure that Raemondo Lessing and Noluthando Makalima, from the Western Cape, the two newest members, as well as two team coaches and team physiotherapist, get to California.
The team’s head coach is none other than nine-time South African world champion surfer, Roxy Davis, who runs the Roxy Davis Foundation in Muizenberg.
Her foundation aims to make a change in people’s mental and physical health through ocean-based surf therapy programmes.
“Surfing is my medicine. It remains a privilege to share para surfing and surf therapy with thousands of surfers with disabilities and volunteers across the Western Cape through a formalised para surfing programme that started in 2016,” she said.
According to Ant Smyth, a two-time World Para Surfing champion, surf therapy enables those with disabilities to do what they thought was impossible.
“The fact that it has real measurable therapeutic benefits is the cherry on top. It’s like taking medicine because it tastes nice,” he said.
The other para surfers who are set to represent South Africa in California are Michele Macfarlane (WC), Caleb Swanepoel (WC), James Sinclair (KZN), Similo Dlamini (KZN), David Williams (KZN), Doug Hendrikz (KZN), Martin Ferreira (GP), Tracy McKay (KZN), Alulutho Tshoba (KZN), Oliver Sinclair (KZN), Asande Sibisi (KZN), Sabelo Ngema (KZN) and Jean Paul Veaudry (EC).
In 2020, the SA team came 6th out of 22 countries and brought home four medals.
“After missing 2021, due to the Covid pandemic, team South Africa 2022 are eager to get out there and show the world their skills and win para surfing medals for South Africa,” Ms Davis said.
The team will be accompanied and supported on the ground and in the water by five team coaches and a team physiotherapist from South Africa.
“Our athletes have shown hard work, bravery and commitment and now have the opportunity to fly the South African flag proudly as they tackle the world’s biggest para surfing competition. This group of diverse and differently-abled sportsmen and women proudly represent everything South Africa stands for,” Ms Davis said.
Quadruple amputee Raemondo Lessing, 15, from Khayelitsha, who uses prosthetic legs for mobility, will compete for team SA in the Men’s Prone 2 (assisted) division and will need a chaperone.
He became disabled when he contracted meningococcal meningitis at the age of five months.
“The blood couldn’t go to my left hand, right arm and both my legs. I was in a coma for a year and a half at the Red Cross children’s hospital,” the youngster explained.
Raemondo, fondly known by teammates as Rae, told the Echo he loves everything about surfing.
“It is great that people with various disabilities are able to experience the feeling of being in an ocean,” he said.
When asked what his life motto is he said, “You must never give up no matter how hard the situation may be.”
The public can donate on BackaBuddy or contact Roxy Davis at 0716700667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org