Surfers Not Street Children

A Surfing and Advocacy Team Committed to:                                                                  

  • A global movement that changes the way that society perceives and treats street children (Advocacy)
  • Promoting the use of surfing as part of models for empowering street children to leave street life around the world
  • Inspiring street children around the world to see their own potential (through the team sharing their own life stories).

The history:
At Umthombo we had a model: we fused high-intensity engagement with psychosocial support. The high-intensity engagement meant activities that would consume and excite the children and provide a precious break from street life and glue sniffing. The psychosocial work would address the traumas that the children had. This fusion was designed to lead street children towards alternatives to street life.  For Umthombo, surfing  was its most successful high-intensity engagement programme. Umthombo’s surfers became well known, the surfing community rallied round and surfing became a tool for empowering Durban’s street children. It was a story that was covered a lot in the media through documentaries, news pieces and articles both locally and internationally. Many surf stars got involved and would pop in and meet the kids and Umthombo’s surfers became some of Durban’s top surfers often featuring in the surfing magazines. Most importantly many children left the streets though the Umthombo surfing programme. Umthombo’s surfing programme is still running today and I try and surf with the Umthombo kids as much as possible when at home in Durban.  Pic: Jon Ivins

Surfers Not Street Children is the new chapter! It is a team of ex street children who inspire other street children and speak out on issues relating to street children.We are also developing similar surfing initiatives for street children to compliment existing local street children agencies in other parts of Africa. There are many cities on the African continent that have surf. Surfing has proved to excite and inspire street children in Durban and can do so elsewhere. It can also lead to the development of niche opportunities for former street children in becoming lifeguards, surf instructors and working in the tourism and surfing industry. The journey continues. Central to this is Team Surfers Not Street Children: Eight young surfers between the age of 16 and 24 who rip, but who also grew up as street children. (This pic: Shorty, 19, and Andile,20, who both came through Umthombo after being street children. Courtesy of The Bombsurf magazine


Team Surfers Not Street Children:

Team Surfers Not Street Children are a team of former street children who are fantastic surfers and charismatic and often hilarious young people. They give surfing demos and speak about their life experiences and “street children” as a Development issue. They also teach street children to surf, give them surfing experiences or inspire them through their surfing and life stories. The team consists of  4 surfers who are lifeguards and qualified surfing instructors. They share a passion for the ocean with a desire to see no child having to live on the streets. They are making waves around the global phenomenon of street children as they campaign to change societies perceptions and treatment of street children. They also search out incredible and lesser surfed surf spots on the African continent chasing adventure and aiming to inspire and encourage local street children. Watch out for the upcoming TV series following their exploits in Africa!


Team Riders/Ambassadors:

Team rider and junior ambassador: Ntando Msibi (16): Ntando is one of the best surfers, in his age group, in the country. he came through Umthombo after having been a street child. He is now a team rider for Billabong and has an array of surf sponsors alongside them. Ntando is preparing for a pro surfing career as well as completing his education. This year (2014) he has been selected to represent South Africa in the South African junior national team that will be competing in Ecuador.




Team rider and ambassador: Sihle Mbutho: “20”. Sihle is a ISA qualified surfing coach. He was a street child who came through Umthombo’s surfing prorgamme. He was the winner of the 2012 Umthombo Surf Classic and is sponsored by PegWorld. He runs his own surf coaching school called Sihle’s Beach Breaks.




Team rider and ambassador: Lucky Nozisali: “24”. Lucky grew up on the streets after losing both parents in a car crash. He became part of Umthombo’s surfing programme. Lucky was the winner of the 2010 Jordy Smith bursary at Umthombo. It involved a years sponsorship with Oneill. He is now a qualified lifeguard who has worked seasonally at both eThekwini Municipality and uShaka Marine World in Durban.

Team rider and ambassador: Andile Zulu: “20” Andile came off the streets through Umthombo. He is a stylish surfer. He is a regular at the New Pier in Durban and works for a surf shop in Durban. He has done some modelling too, most recently for a board-shorts catalogue in a surfing magazine and walked the cat-walk in a BA pilots outfit with Georgia May Jagger at a British Airways event in South Africa.




Team Surfers Not Street Children featured in a documentary on their lives called Kushaya Igagasi. This aired on eTV in South Africa on 6th January 2013 at 6pm. Watch this and meet the team: