© 2018 Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club

Our Story

FIRST STEPS

Girls in Arugam Bay are raised in a surf community, where many of their fathers, brothers and uncles are surfers and work in the surf industry. Surrounded by surfing from a young age, many girls feel a natural desire to learn how to surf too. However, this has not been an option for the majority of them.

Like many other countries, there are cultural expectations and norms for Sri Lankan women that prevent them from entering the public space and participating in sports such as surfing. Thus, apart from a few exceptions like Shamali Sanjaya, surfing has remained a man’s domain in Sri Lanka for decades.

Shamali, one of Arugam Bay's first surfer girls

First Girls Make Waves Event in 2015

gIRLS MAKE WAVES

In 2015, Tiffany Carothers from Surfing the Nations started weekly Girls Make Waves surf lessons for local girls in Arugam Bay. For the first time, women had the chance to learn how to surf in a safe space, supervised by female surf instructors. 

The stoke spread, and over the next few years, the girls continued to surf, bringing a new source of happiness. However, back on land, they had to fight against expectations from society, their community and families. Because of this resistance, some women had to stop surfing, while others kept going, aiming to get into the waves more often.

DREAMS

In 2017, three women from Arugam Bay - Shamali Sanjaya and the sisters Anu and Darnika John - came up with the idea to establish a local women's surf club. While there was already a boys' surf club, they wanted to have their own girls' club, creating an environment where they could feel safe and support each other.

At this time, Martina Burtscher conducted research in Arugam Bay for her thesis about surfing and women's empowerment, and learned about the girls' dream.

Girls Make Waves in 2017

Founding of the Club, 10th of August 2018

Girls Make Waves Lesson in 2017

the club

With the encouragement and help from Tiffany and Martina, in August 2018, the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club was founded! Shortly after, Amanda Prifti joined the facilitating team and helped to set up the club.

In October 2018, the Surfing Federation of Sri Lanka (SFSL) officially registered the club as Sri Lanka's first female surf club - making history and representing a huge step forward for gender equality!

Today, the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club keeps paving the way for women across the country to enter the surfing scene.

Our Members

The club is run by local women for local women.

We have 20 members - and hope to inspire even more women to get on board.

President

Shamali

SECRETARY

Lathika

Treasurer

Isuri

Vice President

Baby Rani

Assistant Secretary

Mili

Assistant Treasurer

Madu

Ammu

Anu

Dilki

Leila

Naomi

Niroshika

Sashini

Sunali

Amina

Darnika

Lala

Mona

Nandini

Sajee

Renuka

Our Facilitators

The club is supported by a facilitating team, who assist with surf lessons, marketing, social media, and fundraising.

Tiffany, from the US, has lived in Arugam Bay since 2011, working with community development through Surfing the Nations. In 2015, Tiffany started weekly Girls Make Waves surf sessions for local women, encouraging and teaching them to surf. Her efforts laid the foundation for the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club, and she remains a key supporter and facilitator. 

Tiffany Carothers

Martina, from Austria, came to Arugam Bay in 2017 to do research for her Master’s thesis on the potential of surfing for women’s empowerment. Through this she met Tiffany and the surfer girls. Learning about the women's dream to have their own girls' surf club, Martina returned in 2018 to co-initiate and set up the club with them. 

Martina Burtscher

Amanda, from the US, spent three months in Sri Lanka in early 2018, while writing her Master’s thesis on environmental hazards in coastal areas. After falling in love with the country, she returned in July 2018, hoping to find a way to give back through her background in environmental protection and international development. After meeting Martina and Tiffany, she joined  the facilitating team.

Amanda Prifti

Madi, from the US, joined the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club as a facilitator in 2019. She volunteers with Surfing the Nations and supports the ABGSC in all matters. Madi loves photography and joking around with the girls.

Madi Graham