The International Surfing Association (ISA) has confirmed that junior surfers from 32 countries across all five continents have applied for the 2015 ISA Scholarship Programme with the world governing body claiming it highlights the global reach of the sport and its impact on young people across the world.
The ISA Scholarship Programme offers financial aid to surfers who are under the age of 18, helping further their education as well as paying for travel and contest and coaching fees, and upgrading their surfing equipment.
Athletes are considered based on their dedication to surfing as well as their academic performance.
Since its establishment in 2007, the ISA Individual Scholarship is said to have awarded more than $228,500 (£159,900/€205,300) in scholarships to further the education and surfing careers of 267 surfers.
Scholarship winners have gone on to compete at national and international surfing competitions with the help of the financial aid.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre says it would be "wonderful" to see some of the scholarship applicants competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with surfing being one of the five sports recommended for inclusion on the programme.
"We are very proud of the ISA Scholarship Programme and we’re delighted that young surfers from 32 countries across all five continents have applied this year," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.
"This underlines the fantastic reach of surfing and its popularity amongst young people all over the world.
"The ISA Scholarship Programme gives young surfers an excellent opportunity to pursue their surfing careers but it also supports them academically.
"These young surfers are the future of our sport and whether they go on to compete professionally or continue to surf recreationally, it gives me great inspiration to see the love for surfing globally."
Among the ISA Scholarship Programme's success stories is Chelsea Tuach, a 2008 recipient from Barbados who has recently qualified for the 2016 World Surf League Championship Tour where she will compete among the world’s top 17 female surfers.
Tuach was also a bronze medallist at the 2015 ISA World Surfing Games in Popoyo, Nicaragua.
Fifteen-year-old Sakunthala Hanumanthapa of India was a recipient in 2014.
Due to the extreme poverty they were facing in their hometown in the Karnataka region of the country, Hanumanthapa’s family relocated to Kovalam in Kerala when she was very young.
Unable to attend school on a regular basis due to language barriers, Hanumanthapa became the only female surfer to join the Kovalam Surf Club where she is said to have become a role model for other girls who she encouraged to join the club.
She continued to surf recreationally after receiving the ISA Scholarship.
The 2015 ISA Scholarship winners will be announced in early April 2016.
Baseball and softball, karate, skateboarding and sport climbing are also vying for inclusion on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020 with the International Olympic Committee due to make a final decision at next summer's Session in Rio de Janeiro.