Brief History of SSA Australia National Surfing

The first meeting of interested teachers took place at Narrabeen in 1976 and was called by Jim Bradley and Laurie Carroll. It was formed to enable surfing to become part of the official school sport system in New South Wales.

By 1979 the NSW Education Department had relented and allowed a trial program in two schools, Balgowlah Boys High and Warilla High. Jim had identified “safety concerns” as the main stumbling block for growth. To overcome this, the surf water safety qualifications provided by the Surf Life Saving Association were enlisted and teachers and students obtained Surf Bronze Medallion and Advanced Resuscitation certificates as a pre requisite to running a program.

In subsequent years;
In 1980 the Department of Education formally approved schools wishing to run programs as long as all the pre-requisites were met. A dozen or so schools applied and ran programs in Term One of that year. Jim and Laurie then organized the first State Titles held at Werri Beach. From 1980 onwards, Jim pushed to spread the organized school surfing concept around the nation.

By 1983 he had identified enough teachers around the country and the National Surfing Championships were inaugurated in the Kiama region at Werri Beach, NSW. This coincided with the formation of the ASSA. The Australian School Surfing Association included representatives from all surfing states that administered School Surfing in the country.

Both the ASSA and Surfing Australia held separate National Championships for secondary school aged elite surfers with great success from the early 1980’s. In 1994 there was a trial of a ‘back-to-back’ arrangement for the 2 events with some success.

Max Wells of Surfing Victoria and previously School Surfing Victoria had been instrumental in developing a communication link between the two organizations that had allowed a joint titles at a state level.

In 2006 Mark Lane was appointed as the new CEO for Surfing Australia. Mark worked as a school teacher in Western Australia where he also coordinated School Surfing and Surfing WA events for many years.

In 1997 a new event format and sponsorship package was brokered to provide a ‘Joint National Titles’ where the two national championships were combined into one event with different divisions. This format has provided a number of advantages to organizers, families and surfers from both organizations.

In recent times the sport has gained support from both the NSO – Surfing Australia, by holding joint titles and also from School Sport Australia becoming an approved sport. Currently surfing has a strong bond between these 2 organisations.