When his own dreams failed, Philani Sikobi turned to the youth in his community and focussed on helping them reach their surfing dreams instead.


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KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – Philani Sikobi grew up by the ocean; his mother worked as a cleaner at the local pool and beach spot. He was at the beach as often as possible while his mother worked.

One day, Philani’s father found a beat-up old surfboard while working as a refuse man. His father took it home, and even though it was dented and missing a fin, Philani was overjoyed! He had spent his days at the beach watching local surfers catch waves and dreamt of being one of them.

He took his board down to the beach and started to teach himself how to surf. He struggled through every day of surfing, almost ready to give up. At just 10-years-old, he was approached by a surfer who had been watching him. The young man offered to teach Philani how to surf, and his passion was ignited.

Sadly, one terrible day, Philani’s mother fell into their fire and was rushed to the clinic. She passed away from her injuries the next day, leaving Philani and his brother devastated by the loss. The shock to their lives changed everything, and Philani gave up his dream of becoming the first black South African world champion surfer.

Philani, his twin brother and father took over running the house and caring for their younger siblings. They learned to cook, clean and do all the washing.

Not long after his mother passed, Philani’s world was rocked again, and multiple deaths in his family led him to drop out of school. He pursued work where he could but eventually became homeless due to mixing with the wrong crowd.

However, one fateful day, Philani met a man who got him back on his feet. He became inspired to give back and started teaching young boys from his community, how to surf. He started out with five boys and ended up with around 30. The local newspaper featured a photo of the group, and that is when Philani’s life to a turn for the better. The local surfers got him trained up to become a surfing instructor, and he started his surfing school.

All of a sudden, these young boys started qualifying for surfing competitions. They even got invited to the SA Champs, a dream long forgotten by Philani. He was watching it be born into the young lives of his students.

Things got a little tricky in 2016 when Philani’s storeroom burned down, and he lost all his equipment. The entire country rallied to support him, and he was soon back on his feet. Philani has faced some of the greatest adversities but has always remained brave. Today he is a true source of inspiration to those around him.

Jordon Collins was moved by his story and decided to document it in a short film. The film is Philani’s life story to date, and it is the most beautiful tribute to a young man who has accomplished so much.

“I wanted to share with you a video about a friend and coworker of mine named Philani Sikobi. His story is one of a young boy who overcame insurmountable odds, and once unable to reach his own dreams, he has turned his life around to help other kids in his community reach theirs!

Philani has been using surf as a means of changing lives of young people and keeping kids off the streets.

He really hopes that his Surf School will grow exponentially next year, and I believe it is possible with the help of a few good-hearted South Africans supporting him. I hope you will be as inspired as we are!” – Jordan Collins

Take a look at the incredible video below, where Philani shares his life story with Jordan. Grab a tissue because it will move you to tears in parts.

Sources: Jordan Collins – Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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