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How did you come to be in South


From the Dragon I went to St Edward’s and

then on to Bristol, where I read French.

During my under-graduate days, I spent a

year in Bordeaux and developed an interest

in wine. I spent a couple of years working

in surf schools in Cornwall and in the

wine harvests in South Africa, then two

friends from the Surf School formed a travel

company called Ticket to Ride, and asked

me to lead their South African operations.

How did Waves for Change begin?

Whilst working with Ticket to Ride, I started

taking children from the townships to the

beach in my spare time as I was interested

in learning about life in townships. Many of

the townships’ young people are exposed to

Aids, community or gender-based violence,

alcohol or substance abuse and gangs; they

have to cope with so much yet there are very

inadequate mental health and social services

available. There is a huge dropout rate from

school and unemployment is high so they

are caught in a vicious circle of poverty.

A friend in Grassroots Soccer was

researching the impact of sport on self-

perception and it was evident that the



Tim Conibear (OD 1995) and his work with

The Isiqalo Foundation (Waves for Change)

opportunity to surf gave these young

people a new outlook on life. Isiqalo means

“The Beginning” and I saw surfing as a

chance to give them a new beginning.

Other adults started to show interest and

I got sponsorship from Ticket to Ride,

Vimto and the Laureus Sport for Good

Foundation. We set up Waves For Change

with government support to offer an

integrated programme offering mentorship,

peer support, training and, of course,

surfing. It has evolved and developed over

five years. There are now about 800 young

people taking part each week. We are

supported by the Ashoka Foundation, and

a grant from Comic Relief has allowed us

to open three new projects - one in East

London, another in Port Elizabeth and a

final project in Liberia.

Tell me a little more about the


Children are referred from their schools or

from social services (aged 11-14) and they

take part in a one-year course of six hours

a week. They share their stories, take part

in role-play exercises and are helped to

stabilise themselves emotionally, through

these sessions and through surfing. After

a year, they go to weekend clubs, overseen

by mentors, and they can do a range of

activities such as life-saving qualifications,

surfboard building and homework clubs.

They are encouraged to develop their own

leadership skills so they can be good role

models and they can secure bursaries for

further study if they wish. Some go on to

become coaches themselves (aged 18-24),

trained by Health Care professionals to form

referral networks and liaise with key contact

points in the community.

What have your highlights been so far?

There are quite a few. Meeting my wife,

Daniela, in 2010 is the first one. She teaches

History at the Herzlia School.

I was proud to get a big grant from

Mercedes Benz and also to be featured in the

World Surf League for the past two years.

I have become an Ashoka Fellow, and

enjoy seeing the programme spread across

Cape Town, and now South Africa and

Africa. It is now the largest project of its

kind globally, and the growth has only really

just started. We also won the Laureus Sport

for Good Award in February 2017.

Tim Conibear and his wife Daniela