Surfing is on the rise in Sierra Leone ©ISA

The International Surfing Association (ISA) has hailed the progress of the sport in Sierra Leone - just two years after the country's governing body became a member.

Since joining the ISA in 2016, the Sierra Leone Surfing Association (SLSA) has hosted their first National Championships as well as holding an instructor certification course.

Thirty-eight competitors entered the National Championship in all, with four champions crowned in the open, junior, women's and grom divisions.

Three surfers from the African country were also selected to serve as ISA scholarship ambassadors during 2017.

The ISA are keen to take the sport to new markets prior to their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

"The ISA is committed to facilitating the rapid growth of surfing around the world, especially in non-traditional surfing nations such as Sierra Leone," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. 

"We strive to provide more opportunities and better access to equipment to reach new surfers and help the sport flourish.

"The recent development milestones achieved in Sierra Leone are fantastic for the growth of the sport in Africa and representative of the global growth that the sport has experienced since the International Olympic Committee's decision in August of 2016 to include surfing on the sports programme of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The country has staged its first National Championships ©ISA
The country has staged its first National Championships ©ISA

"The ISA will continue to work hand in hand with the SLSA to realise the full potential that the sport has in Sierra Leone and legitimise the sport."

Jahbez Benga, the President of the SLSA, also highlighted the strides the sport has made in his country.

"Becoming a member of the ISA has been a key step in the growth and development of the sport in Sierra Leone," he said. 

"Under the ISA's guidance we have made significant progress towards achieving our goals and have held a successful edition of our first National Championship.

"Surfing in Sierra Leone only got serious five years ago when we first opened the Bureh Beach Surf Club, but at that time there were only a few surfers in the country and many had no idea about the sport. 

"Now, surfing is really gaining credibility, positively impacting our community, and the level of talent is increasing exponentially.

"It's been a long road to spread the sport across Sierra Leone and we are optimistic about what the future beholds. 

"It's our dream to one day see a Sierra Leonean surfer competing in the Olympics on the world's greatest sporting stage, and thanks to the ISA, this is a dream that could one day come true."