Yuko is First Indonesian Surfer to Receive Scholarship Award from ISA
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 March, 2014 - Yuko Anabela - 15-year-old Yukojati Anabela from Pelabuhan Ratu in West Java Indonesia has made history as the first ever Indonesian surfer to be a recipient of the International Surfing Association’s 2013 Individual Scholarship Program, receiving $1,000 USD and the honor of representing her country as an ISA Ambassador. Bela, as her friends call her, is one of the 50 junior surfers (13 girls and 37 boys) from 25 different countries to be awarded this scholarship in 2013.
In the award letter sent to Bela by ISA President Fernando Aguerre, he wrote “…it is my honor to congratulate you on being selected as a recipient of the 2013 ISA Individual Scholarship. As a 2013 ISA Scholarship Recipient, you are an ISA Ambassador, and you will forever represent the ISA in your country as a dedicated surfer and student who works hard and achieves success in and out of the water. To be an ISA Ambassador is a great honor, and your effort in submitting a heartfelt and well-deserving application speaks to your dedication to both your surfing and education.”
When asked to describe her feelings upon receiving the scholarship, Bela replied, “Of course I was surprised! When I found out I was home alone and I screamed with joy. I couldn’t wait till my mom came home so that I could tell her. I right away called Om Diki and told him how I won, and he was stoked too!” Diki Zulfikar is one of the senior surfers in Cimaja and the leader of the Sukabumi Surfing Association.
She went on to add, “I am extremely happy, I never knew I could ever win something like an ISA scholarship. I am quite proud of winning this opportunity and in a way it has also made me more proud of my surfing.” How did her parents react to the news? My parents were very shocked at first, they couldn’t believe it either. They are extremely happy for me and they have even grown more supportive of my surfing, which makes me very happy!”
"As long as I am good to others and present no harm I don’t see why a Muslim girl can’t surf"
What makes this even more special is the fact that there are not many girl surfers in Indonesia, especially not many Muslim girl surfers. When asked if she had any challenges along the way she replied, “To be honest there are a few challenges, I see it as a part of our culture here so I respect it, as long as I am good to others and present no harm I don’t see why a Muslim girl can’t surf. People generally tell me not to surf because I will get black or surfer girls are too sexy or that I will turn into a big tomboy. I don’t mind what they say as I love surfing and I will keep surfing because I also believe it makes you a very humble person.”
And how did Bela get inspired to start surfing? “I first saw Andre Julian, one of our young local surfers, surf his heat in one of the grommet contests. I though WOW! He is such a great surfer, so from there I was determined to learn to surf! I bugged him to teach me and he did, I’m still very grateful for his help.” Bela has been surfing now for close to five years at her home break of Cimaja in West Java, also the home of Java’s most well known pro surfer and past Indonesian surfing champion Dede Suryana.
When Bela applied to the scholarship program, one of the requirements was that she had to create a budget plan to describe how she would use the $1,000 scholarship money. At the time she listed among other things surf trips, surf contests, school and parents as most important. Now that she has received the money, she says, “I would really love to buy a new surfboard, go on a surf trip to somewhere different, travel to an upcoming contest, and pay for my schooling.”
Regarding her future goals, she says, “ For my surfing goals I would really love to win more contests and improve my skills, so hopefully one day I could get a sponsor and may turn it into a lifetime career. For my life goals, I would like to be a good person. I have always been into my basketball and surfing, so I hope one day I can be a successful athlete.”
We wish Bela the best in her future plans, and hope that more Indonesian girls and women will be inspired by her example and join in the sport of surfing, and become future recipients of the ISA Individual Scholarship Program as well.