4 min read

Exclusive: Surfing Australia Looking To Capitalise On Olympic Success


Following the debut appearance of surfing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year, Surfing Australia CEO, Christopher Mater, explained how the organisation is planning on capitalising on the success and attention of the Olympics.

Speaking to Ministry of Sport, Mater said there is a large focus on increasing surfing’s participation numbers across the country and bringing in a principal partner for the national surf team, the Irukandjis.

“We had our first Olympic Games, we sent the Irukandjis team to that fantastic event and came home with a bronze medal which has been incredible for surfing,” Mater told Ministry of Sport.

“We had over 500,000 media impressions in Australia which is staggering and shows both the popularity of Owen Wright and surfing in the media.

“Moving into the summer, one of the big programs we’re looking to promote is our Woolworths SurfGroms, which is really about getting more young people in the sport of surfing.

“It’s one of the biggest sports already in Australia with over two million participants, but we can’t stop at that number, we want to grow it even further.

“The program is about getting 5-12-year-olds into surfing, and we do that through our national network of surf schools and great coaches, and that’s our big focus for the summer,” he said.

On the hopes of bringing in more commercial partners, Mater said: “We’re actually in market right now, we’re on the hunt for new partners, so to all your readers, the invitation is out there.”

“We’ve put together the Irukandjis partnership deck and we’re out there trying to secure partners.

“We’re excited to see what partners we can generate off the success of the Olympics,” he said.

Expanding to discuss the focus of the wider organisation and the challenges ahead in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Mater said the international surfing community is continuously growing stronger and more competitive every year.

“We’re quite a diverse organisation, we have a number of pillars…” Mater said.

“In the event side, we’re excited for COVID to be behind us and really execute some amazing events next year, we’ve got the Australian Boardriders Battle, which is the biggest surfing event in Australia, then we have all our Australian titles, which it is exciting to see those happen again.

“On the high-performance side, we’re basically starting our Olympic journey for Paris 2024, working with a lot of athletes to get them prepared for the best possible performances in two and a half years’ time.

“We also have a media channel as a business around creating great stories.

“We just finished a fantastic series on Channel Nine called Rivals and we’re looking forward to creating that again next year.

“We’re looking for Irukandjis partners in particular, that’s a new opportunity and we’re excited for the right brand to come on board and take that as the principal partner.

“Lastly is the high-performance centre, that’s the 40,000 square foot building which has got trampolines, skate ramps, gyms, and full accommodation for our athletes that come and train here.

“As it relates to Paris, it’s really about keeping competition up.

“Surfing is becoming even more global, 15 years ago, people weren’t talking about Japan, France or Brazil being major threats, so our greatest challenge is the competitiveness of different nations we will compete against, and the powerhouses are getting stronger.

“There’s a range of new nations no one has considered as major competitors before.

“Australia has a huge history of world champions and being the best and the most dominant nation, so our challenge is to keep in front of those other countries and competitors,” he said.

When asked what advice he would give other national sporting organisations looking to capitalise on the growth opportunity presented from the Olympic Games, Mater said organisation-wide preparation is crucial.

“You have to make sure all your programs are in place, your participation programs, your events, your high performance, and your media arm are all ready to take advantage of that influx of audience that want to watch and get involved in your sport,” Mater told Ministry of Sport.

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