Sayulita’s Junior Surf and Sup Teams are heading to Colima, Manzanillo, on May 25th, 2019, through May 31st, to compete for the first time in the Mexican National Olympic games. After two weeks of training, the youth are ready to compete against the best, although many of them have been surfing or paddle boarding for their whole lives in preparation. This is the first time in history that the Nayarit state team has been represented at the Mexican National Olympic games, due to the requirement that the team members must also be enrolled in school, and also because this is the first time that surfing has been acknowledged as a federal sport by the government of Nayarit. I talk with the team coach, Geovani Perez, about the team and the excitement over this competition.
Geovani, first can you give readers some background information about yourself, and your experience in and passion for coaching?
I have lived in Sayulita for over twenty years, and I own a surf school called Sayulita Surf Company. I had a professional career of surfing before I began coaching; I was on the national team for surf and stand up paddle, and I represented Mexico all over the world. I started coaching about ten years ago, around 2009, but have been coaching youth specifically for about three years. I was the coach last year for the Nayarit State Team, and we had the nationals in Sayulita where we won first place as a team. We were the champions in Mexico! The youth ages 12-14 got first place and won the gold medal. I first started coaching because I believe that surfing really can help people and their lives. If you are a good coach and you can help push the youth to the next level and inspire them, you can help them to achieve their dreams. I like to help others pursue their dreams, and this is one of the main reasons I started coaching.
What type of youth are involved on the teams, and what has their training been like for this competition?
For this competition we have two divisions: one division is for 15-16 year olds, and the second division is for 17-18 year olds. The kids on the team are primarily local kids from Sayulita. It is a small team; there are three team members from Sayulita, and one team member is from Bucerias. They have been specifically training for this competition very diligently for the past two weeks, but most of these kids have been surfing or paddling for their whole lives.
I understand that they are competing at the Mexican National Olympic Games. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
Yes. This is the first time that surfing has been recognized by the government of Nayarit as a federal sport. So, the government of Nayarit has the support for these athletes. It is the first time that surfing is involved, and so now surfing is considered an Olympic sport. These are the steps to make the national team to compete for a spot at the Olympic games. We are really happy to bring our team to the Mexican Olympic National Games in Manzanillo. This is quite a historical and exciting event for us. The competition starts on May 25th, 2019, and lasts for six days, until the 31st of May. We are taking the kids to win all the medals! The interesting thing here, in order to be on the Nayarit team, is that there are quite a bit of regulations. One of those regulations to be part of the state team is that you have to be enrolled in school. This is the first time we have a state team from Nayarit to represent at the Olympic Games because we used to have a bigger team, but many of the kids on the team who surfed were not in school. Our current team is small with only 4 kids, because these kids are in school and thus are qualified to go to the competition. They are great role models to the next generations. These athletes are competing in both surfing and stand up paddle, so they have to train twice as hard to win the medals for Sayulita, and for the state of Nayarit.
What else is involved in the competition, and what are the prizes for the winners?
There are six different sports in the competition in Colima. One is rugby, another is beach volleyball, there is also indoor volleyball, judo, and of course, surfing and stand up paddle boarding. So we are going to travel with different teams from different sports. Because this is the Mexican National Olympic games, the best athletes who win gold, silver, and bronze medals will be compensated by their states, meaning they will receive a monetary prize for their medal, as well as funding for the next year as a compensation for their hard work. This includes a “becca”, otherwise known as financial aid that the youth can use for continuing their education as well as continuing their training in the sport.
Pro Sayulita is funding meals for the team on their trip, correct? Can the community help out you and your team in any way?
Yes, I am really thankful to Janice Parker and Grupo Pro Sayulita for their generosity. I reached out to them because I want these kids to perform their best, and I want the kids to be compensated in a way for all of their hard work. I reached out to the group, and they had a great response and offered to provide us with some financial help. This will make a big difference in keeping the team motivated and ensuring they can do their best and give one hundred percent at the competition. I am really grateful to Pro Sayulita; thank you so much to them. If other community members want to get involved and help out, they can reach out to me directly at my email. The most important thing is if you see these athletes around in Sayulita, please cheer them on and wish them the best of luck! We are so proud of them. Thank you for keeping the kids motivated.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Sayulita has been impressing the nation for the last ten years with the amount of strong athletes, particularly in surfing, that have been coming from our little town. We have been creating and producing strong, young athletes out of our little surf town and really putting Sayulita on the map in terms of being recognized for our competition in surfing. I believe we need to constantly be producing new athletes and continuing to grow the competition of surfing in Sayulita, as well as world wide. Last, I also want to say thank you so much to all the parents and all the people involved who are giving back to the sport. There is no better support than what a parent can give to their children, so thank you to them. Please think of our team in this coming week, cheer us on, and wish us luck!
*Written by: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri