2014 Billabong SA Grommet Games gets under way at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth on Thursday
Over 120 surfers representing six provinces will compete in the 22nd edition of the Billabong South African Grommet Games which gets under way at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth this Thursday. Officials and families from all parts of the South African coastline will join the surfers as they celebrate this unique surfing tournament.
The tournament, which is supported by Sport and Recreation SA, will officially get under way with the opening function on Wednesday evening at 6.30pm in the Victoria Park Grey Primary School Hall in Walmer.
The SA Grommet Games is proudly hosted by the Eastern Province Surfing Council which has hosted all but one of the tournaments since the first one was held over Easter in 1991.
From humble beginnings the annual SA Grommet Games is now a blue ribbon event on the Surfing South Africa calendar. 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 the opportunity to compete for their respective 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 22 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.
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 are included in 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 a variety 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 was won by Western Province in 2013.
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. An 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.
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 (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).
By Robin de Kock