2013 Billabong SA Grommet Games celebrates its 21st at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth from Wednesday to Sunday
Surfing history will be made in Port Elizabeth from Wednesday to Sunday this week when close on 180 surfers representing eight provinces arrive to participate in the 21st edition of the Billabong South African Grommet Games. Officials and families from up and down the coast of South Africa will join the surfers as they celebrate the journey South Africa surfing has made since unification back in 1991.
The tournament, which is supported by Sport and Recreation SA, will officially get under way on Wednesday evening when the teams, officials, families and friends gather at 6.30pm in the Victoria Park Grey Primary School Hall in Walmer for the official opening function.
The proud hosts of the SA Grommet Games are the Eastern Province Surfing Council who have hosted all but one of the tournaments since the first one was held over Easter in 1992.
Former South African Junior team captain, former National team member, multiple South African and Western Province champion and fearless big wave exponent Matthew Bromley will be the guest speaker at the opening function. Bromley, who began his competitive career at the Grommet Games is an established Billabong Team rider.
From humble beginnings back in 1992 the annual SA Grommet Games is now a blue ribbon event on the Surfing South Africa calendar. Not only does it feature surfers representing teams from all eight provinces but it also features surfers and officials from every surfing community in South Africa.
Introduced into South African surfing culture after unification, the Grommet Games is a transformation and development tournament that gives young surfers from around the country an opportunity to compete for their various provinces in a major surfing contest for the first time.
Many South African surfers who began their competitive surfing careers in the Grommet Games have gone on to compete in National Championships and elite tournaments and a number have represented South Africa in International competitions.
Port Elizabeth has remained the venue for this important and significant championship for all but one of its 21 years due to the fact that it is situated midway between Durban and Cape Town. This means that most teams have to travel the same distance to participate.
In addition, the Pipe at Pollock Beach produces consistent, contestable conditions for surfers who are representing their provincial teams in their first ever national contest.
The Billabong SA Grommet Games is regarded by Surfing South Africa as a vital and important tournament and certainly takes its place with distinction alongside other major National events. As it celebrates 21 years it can now claim to be one of the defining tournaments on the Surfing South Africa calendar.
Girls and boys from a variety of different cultures and communities are represented across the eight divisions and come from all parts of the South African coast. There are surfers from Trafalgar and Umzumbe on the KZN South Coast, Jeffreys Bay, Strandfontein, the Cape Flats, Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, the Garden Route, Strand and the Cape Peninsula.
The youngest surfers in the contest will compete in the Under 8 Division with the oldest participants taking part in the competitive Under 16 boys and girls group.
The Grommet Games highlights the transformation process within Surfing South Africa and provinces are set strict criteria when it comes to selecting their teams.
While much of the focus is on surfing itself, events such as a paddle battle, beach flags and a tag team surfing competition will make up the activities that make this event so special each year.
Sponsors Billabong have added even more to this year’s event in the form of “goodie bags” for each contestant which will include all kinds of items.
The team that displays the most spirit and support during the contest will win the Best Team Trophy and the Team with the highest points total will take home the Mandela Bay Trophy, which is currently held by hosts Eastern Province.
In order to select the appropriate team for this event, provinces have held a series of trials and the result of this process is five wonderful days of social and competitive interaction. The added advantage of holding an event such as this is that Surfing South Africa is able to identify potential national and perhaps even future world champions.
Western Province narrowly beat the defending champions Eastern Province Surfing Council last year but Eastern Province will be keen to begin 2013 like they ended 2012. Other teams participating are from KZN Central, Border, Boland, Southern Cape, Zululand and Southern KZN.
The Billabong SA Grommet Games is supported by Sport and Recreation South Africa, presented by Surfing South Africa and hosted by the Eastern Province Surfing Council.
Surfing South Africa is the recognized governing body for the sport in South Africa and a member of the South African Confederation of Sport and Olympic Committee and the International Surfing Association.