Cherif Fall wants to become the first surfer from sub-Saharan Africa to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics!


the imposing Cherif Fall looks like a giant in the ocean. Almost 2 meters high, it is the benchmark for surfing in Senegal. He hits the waves with a big goal: to become the first surfer from sub-Saharan Africa to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

This dream was fueled by broken surfboards left by tourists on the coasts near Dakar where the waves are famous. Against his parents’ wishes, he took up surfing at the age of 11, then he became a nine-time champion of Senegal. He is always ready to take big waves like his friend and hero Italo Ferreira, the reigning Olympic champion.

Cherif Fall is one of those talented surfers from West Africa who are emerging to inspire the next generation to take up surfing and increase the popularity of this discipline. “I learned to surf using broken boards that surfers, often tourists who had come to surf, left on the beach. That’s how I learned to surf, » he said in an interview with Olympics.com from California where he trains.

The decision to embark on this relatively unknown sport in Dakar, football, wrestling and basketball are favored by Senegalese youth, was not easy. His parents were reluctant to let him go surfing.

“I started surfing the broken boards with my brother, but he quit. For my part, I continued even if it was hard to concentrate in school once I had started surfing. It affected my studies, because I didn’t do well in school. I remember saying that I wanted to become a professional surfer and be one of the best in Dakar… It made my father angry,” he recalled. “But I continued because my goal was to learn to surf. My dad even bought me my first board… I was so excited when he did that. Then I won my first competition in 2013. Since then, I have been the champion of Senegal. »

Cherif Fall was able to progress thanks to the many waves he was able to surf in these conditions. This allows him today to lead a new generation of Senegalese surfers, like Ismaila Samb, who enjoys the foam as the very lively Senegalese capital prepares to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2026. are as numerous as they are varied on the 724 km of Senegalese coast. Yoff, Les Almadies, the island of Ngor in Dakar are famous places for surfers who allow Cherif Fall to train in the waters of the North Atlantic.

The 25-year-old surfer continued to progress to competing around the world to prove his critics wrong. He is no longer in difficulty in terms of equipment and even has several sponsors including Billabong, a brand that supports some of the best surfers on the planet.

He made his international debut at the Airwalk Pro Junior in France in 2015. Since then, he has represented his country in several competitions in Europe and the United States. Above all, Cherif Fall allowed the Senegalese flag to fly during the ISA World Surfing Games. But it’s not always easy to make your way as a surfer from sub-Saharan Africa.

“When you are a surfer in Senegal, you cannot always count on the support of the government. They help us especially when we represent the country on major events like the World Championships or the World Surfing Games. But they are not there for us in the other competitions, the ones we need to move forward. I think that’s why it’s so hard to find African surfers in the many international competitions. We need government support but also visas to go to most events in Europe and the United States and sometimes they tell us that at the last minute that we don’t have guaranteed visas. »

Cherif Fall needs to fight relentlessly to have means and opportunities. What easily discourage the most promising young surfers in Africa. “Now people know Surf Senegal thanks to me and a few others because we compete in Europe, Japan, France… but there are not many of us. Basically, there are two surfers of color: South African Michael February and me. Despite the difficulties, Dakar remains the epicenter of surf culture in Senegal.

The discipline is progressing in certain age categories and each success of experienced surfers like Cherif Fall is a boost. « Most Senegalese know me », admits the one who is not only motivated by the possibility of becoming the best surfer in his country. His ultimate goal is for young people to fall in love with his sport.

“Now there are so many kids who come surfing because they saw me surfing. As a Muslim country, we don’t drink alcohol so surfing is a good way to occupy our time. The children watch me, they follow my development through surfing. They see me traveling, competing against the best surfers in the world. “It’s the dream for all these young people who follow me. And that’s why I’m always positive and want to move on and keep learning. When I see kids surfing, it’s enough to keep me motivated, because they like what I’m doing. »

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