After years of participating in various Moroccan surf contests, Meryem El Gardoum, 20, and Fatima Zahra Berrada, 37, recently competed in the Agadir Open surf contest’s first-ever women’s final, and traveled to the World Surfing Games in France, becoming the first ever women representing their country in a surf competition abroad. El Gardoum hails from a small, traditional village near Agadir, which has long been a hotbed for surfers — but still, many local men don’t approve of Moroccan women taking part in the sport. “They say if you go to surf, you’re gonna drink alcohol, you’re gonna smoke, you’re gonna go with the boys,” El Gardoum told PRI. Even local women would tell her mother she should not let her surf. “But she told me, ‘Just go to surf. Don’t care about what they said.’ And then I keep surfing, you know? Like if I keep thinking about what they said, I’m never gonna’ do like, nothing,” she said. Berrada added that money forms an additional barrier that keeps Moroccan women from entering the sport. “It’s an expensive sport,” she said. “It’s not open to everyone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of talented young people who don’t have a way to make living off of their passion.” This is why the two would like to see more international surf brands sponsor Moroccan women, as they already do with the male surfers. “People all over the world think there aren’t girl surfers in Morocco,” El Gardoum claimed. “That’s why I want one or two girls in the World Surf League — to tell everyone that, ‘Yeah, there are girl surfers in Morocco.’ That’s what I want to say.”
Read the full story at PRI.