The fledgling surfing scene in Bangladesh is gaining momentum, and young Bangladeshi surfers say with proper funding and time, they will be ready to take on the world.
In Cox's Bazar, surfers from around the country took part in a two-day national competition on April 28-29, with 70 contenders from 10 surfing clubs. Of them, 12 were teenage girls.
There were also about 200 other surfers who did not take part in the competition but came to take part in the fun anyway.
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A woman surfs a wave in Cox's Bazar Abdul Aziz/Dhaka Tribune
Beginning with a handful of enthusiasts, among them several courageous young local girls from low-income backgrounds who fought down many a frown from their conservative families, the surfing scene in Bangladesh is now thriving. The sandy bottom and warm water of Cox's Bazar provides for good surfing waves throughout the year.
Now that surfing has been approved as a sport for Olympics and will be launched in the 2020 Tokyo Games, Bangladeshi surfers say they want to make a name for their nation in the global arena and are training hard to achieve that goal.
In between surfing on the world's longest unbroken beach, the athletes talked about their passion for surfing, their dreams and the challenges they face.
Riding the waves is addictive, said Kamal, Sumi and Mehraz, who took part in the competition.
The endless water draws them constantly, they said. During the early morning and late afternoon high tides, the surfers gather at many points on the beach to practice and play.
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Surfing as a hobby began in earnest with local girls, many from lower income families Abdul Aziz/Dhaka Tribune
However, the families and the society are unsupportive of this sport, they say. None of them are from wealthy families, and the surfing community needs state sponsorship for survival.
“It will be hard for anyone to be a professional surfer without sponsorship. Many are involved because of their passion but without training and practice, many potential talents will be lost,” said surfer Ramzan, who has competed in many international events.
Bangladesh Surfing Association General Secretary Moazzem Hossain Chowdhury said the country's surfers had been training since a very young age and with proper training they would easily be able to compete internationally.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Shikder said surfing could help promote tourism in Cox's Bazar.
“The government is taking several initiatives in support of surfing, including recognition of the surfing association,” he said.