Former SA Surfing Champion Tasha Mentasti is the first woman, globally, to head up a national junior surfing team as she has been appointed as Head Coach of the 2022 SA Junior Surf side.
In a positive move for women surf coaches, Mentasti says her appointment is a step in the right direction for inclusivity in the sport.
Her first test at the helm will see Mentasti guide a dynamic young group at the World Championships in El Salvador where she believes that the talented surfers are able to bring home medals for South Africa.
gsport briefly caught up with Mentasti to chat about her appointment and preparations for the World Champs.
Congratulations on your appointment as Head Coach of the 2022 SA Junior Surf Team. What does this appointment mean to you?
Being appointed Head Coach for this dynamic young team is an absolute honour and I must say thank you to the SSA selection committee and SSA Board for showing foresight and challenging the acceptable gender boundaries within the sport and especially the surf coaching environment.
The waves of change have started and I am grateful for this incredible opportunity.
As the first woman to head up a national junior surfing team, how do you think this will pave the way for opportunities for women to come in the future of the sport?
It is a positive move for female surf coaches and now that surfing is an Olympic sport, I believe there will be a need for more inclusive surf training environments to be created whereby women can be educated on high performance surf coaching and assisted in developing their technical coaching skills.
Gender equality has yet to be met in the sports coaching field but it is a massive priority within the IOC structures.
This is the first time, globally, that any national surfing federation has appointed a female for the role as Head Coach for a junior surf team. A responsibility I am willing to take on, to help empower more female surf coaches to achieve their goals and play a positive role in making their dreams a reality.
How are preparations going with the team as you head to El Salvador for the World Championships?
Due to team members being situated in different coastal towns, I have been working directly with all their personal surf coaches over the past few weeks. Surfers have been dialling in their equipment for the types of waves that will be on offer in El Salvador, and fine-tuning their surfing skills in various conditions as well as working on their time management within heats.
It has been great to be able to collaborate and have the support from their personal coaches (all male).
The team is ready and we are looking forward to the trip.
What are you hoping to achieve at the global event?
The team is very young and due to the pandemic, they have not had opportunities to travel and compete on a global stage. 10 out of the 12 athletes have never left South African shores before.
Of course we are always aiming to surf our best in each heat and I believe we have some extremely talented surfers in the team who are able to bring home medals for South Africa.
It will be an incredible experience for the whole team and I am looking forward to seeing the kids shine on the world stage and grow from strength to strength.
Photo 1 Caption: Former SA Surfing Champion Tasha Mentasti is the first woman globally, to head up a national junior surfing team as she has been appointed as Head Coach of the 2022 SA Junior Surf side. Photo: Supplied / Sandy Coffey