Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Jamaican among 28 to pick up international surfing scholarships

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2023 | 1:11 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Nathaniel Bailey gets ready to catch a wave at the ISA World Para Surfing Championship in Pismo Beach California.
Jamaica’s Nathaniel Bailey gets ready to catch a wave at the ISA World Para Surfing Championship in Pismo Beach California.

IT HAS just been two years since Jamaica College student Nathaniel Bailey decided he wanted to test the waters with regard to the sport of surfing and the youngster is already creating waves internationally.

Bailey was among 28 surfers who received special International Surfing Association (ISA) scholarships. The 16 young men and 12 young women hail from nations including Iran, Venezuela, Senegal, Costa Rica, India, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Chile, and Uruguay.

Having represented Jamaica at the World Para Surfing Championship in 2021 and 2022, Bailey is set to receive a portion of the US$20,000 scholarship for his education and surf training.

President of the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA), Inilek Wilmot, says he is overjoyed that para surfing is getting the recognition it truly deserves.

“Para surfing is a new sport for us in Jamaica, so for young Bailey to receive this scholarship is tremendous. What it will do is it will allow for him to have access to specialised equipment and training which will help him to improve.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre established the ISA Scholarship Programme in 2007. Since then the programme has awarded more than US$388,500 in grants to benefit the lives and surfing careers of nearly 400 surfers.

“One of my favourite times of the year is when the ISA gives out our annual scholarships. We have been providing opportunities to surfers from all across the world for 15 years now and nothing brings me greater joy than seeing the incredible achievements of these young men and women as they grow in their surfing careers,” said Aguerre.

Several recipients of ISA Scholarships have developed into elite, competitive surfers and have gone on to claim medals at senior ISA events. They include Daniela Rosas of Peru, Carlos Muñoz of Costa Rica, and Chelsea Tuach of Barbados.

For Aguerre, the future of para surfing is bright, and the sky is the limit for the young men and women who continue to inspire the world.

“I can’t wait to see many more scholarship ambassadors achieve their dreams. No matter what struggles and hardships they might face at home, our dream is to see them succeed in life and in their surfing and I fully expect to see many of the names below representing their country at the highest level, the Olympics or even Paralympic Games, one day in the near future.”