RIVERTON resident Marama Pou has had her feet firmly planted on a surfboard since she was a child.
Now she is pushing for other Southland women and girls to come along for the ride.
“I want to show other women and young girls that they can do anything.”
Ms Pou, whose dad taught her to surf when she was a 2 year old, grew up taking on the waves at Riverton’s Mitchells Bay with her family, she said.
After more than 30 years of living and breathing the sport, she was recently selected to be the Southland ambassador for the Aotearoa Women’s Surfing Association [AWSA].
“Surfing was a really male-dominated sport when I was growing up but I’ve seen more and more women and young girls getting into it too… I want to keep that going here [in Southland].”
While she was in the early stages of her role, she had a few ideas she would like to introduce, from organising weekly surf meets to surf yoga, have-a-go days and board swaps with other female surfers, Ms Pou said.
“There’s a real range of ages of females getting into the sport. Surfing with boys is cool but the social aspect of surfing with girls is great… having that sense of camaraderie.”
Now a parent, she had passed the “surfing bug” on to her daughter, 11-year-old Keita.
“She’s got more medals than me now. We now have three generations of female surfers in my family and we still all surf which is pretty cool.”
One of the motivators for taking on the role was to show other females they could do whatever they put their mind to, even after facing adversity, she said.
About three years ago, the former Otago-Southland surfing representative suffered a stroke which left half her body paralysed.
“I had to quit my job, I couldn’t drive, I lost my confidence and had to relearn everything.
“Getting back into surfing about five months later helped me get that back.”
With a drive to bring more females together through surfing, Ms Pou hoped the Southland AWSA would give the younger generation of surfers a community to be a part of.
“It’s a chance to guide them and offer support, but surfing is really all about having fun.”