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

Shamali, one of Arugam Bay's first surfer girls

First Girls Make Waves Event in 2015

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.

First Girls Make Waves Event in 2015

First Girls Make Waves Event in 2015

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

Girls Make Waves in 2017

Founding of the Club, 10th of August 2018

Founding of the Club, 10th of August 2018

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.

Founding of the Club, 10th of August 2018

Founding of the Club, 10th of August 2018

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.

a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Shamali President
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Baby Rani Vice President
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Lathika Secretary
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Mili Assistant Secretary
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Isuri Treasurer
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Madu Assistant Treasurer
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Ammu
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Amina
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Anu
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Darnika
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Dilki
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Lala
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Leila
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Mona
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Naomi
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Nandini
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Niroshika
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Sajee
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Sashini
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Renuka
a member of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club
Sunali

Shamali

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Baby Rani

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Lathika

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Mili

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Isuri

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Madu

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Ammu

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Amina

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Anu

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Darnika

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Dilki

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Lala

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Leila

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Mona

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Naomi

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Nandini

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Niroshika

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Sajee

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Sashini

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Renuka

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Sunali

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam ex augue, hendrerit sed gravida ut, mattis vel tortor. Duis hendrerit sagittis bibendum. Fusce massa risus, hendrerit et est vitae, convallis accumsan ipsum. Integer vitae erat mattis, ornare tortor nec, luctus turpis. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse finibus fermentum consectetur. Nulla vestibulum, diam ut finibus dictum, justo felis blandit mi, sed rhoncus tortor augue vitae orci. Fusce semper eu ante ut faucibus.

Our Facilitators

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

a facilitator of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club

Tiffany Carothers

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.

a facilitator of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club

Martina Burtscher

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.

a facilitator of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club

Amanda Prifti

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.

a facilitator of Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club

Madi Graham

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.