International Women’s Day Special: Sandy Alibo

Authored by
Photography by Erica

In an exclusive interview with Sandy Alibo, the founder of Surf Ghana Collective, we delved into her inspiring journey of building a thriving community around surfing and skateboarding in Ghana. Sandy, originally from Martinique, moved to France where she pursued a career in digital communication. Her life took a transformative turn during a trip to Ghana in 2016 when she discovered a passion for surfing and a deep connection to the country. Motivated by a desire to enhance African representation in action sports, Sandy returned to Ghana and founded Surf Ghana Collective, aiming to create opportunities for black and African surfers while contributing to sustainable tourism.

Deeds Magazine Interview with Sandy Alibo:

Deeds: Hi Sandy, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. To start off, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what you do now?

Sandy: My name is Sandy Alibo, and I'm the founder of Surf Ghana Collective. I'm originally from Martinique but spent several years living and working in France, where I studied digital communication and worked at Orange, focusing on digital and event strategy within action sports. However, it was during a life-changing trip to Ghana in 2016 that I fell in love with the country, particularly through surfing. This experience fueled my passion to invest my time in Ghana and develop a project aimed at improving African representation in action sports.

Deeds: Can you share the inspiration and ideas behind Surf Ghana? What prompted you to establish this collective?

Sandy: Certainly. Surf Ghana was born out of a dual purpose: to improve black and African representation in board sports and to change the narrative surrounding surfing in Africa. I wanted to provide a platform for people to tell their own stories and showcase their experiences through platforms like Instagram. What started as a simple social media page evolved into a community-driven initiative, offering surf experiences and travel opportunities for both locals and international visitors.

Deeds: So far, how has Surf Ghana impacted the local community, both in sports and socially?

Sandy: Surf Ghana has made a significant impact on the local community. By providing access to equipment and creating safe spaces for surfing and skating, we've enabled more people to engage in these sports. Additionally, we've built infrastructure like skate parks and surf houses, fostering a sense of community and collaboration. Beyond sports, Surf Ghana has also contributed to social empowerment by creating job opportunities and promoting entrepreneurship among young adults.

Deeds: What's the ultimate goal or vision you have for Surf Ghana? Are there specific milestones or achievements you're aiming for in the future?

Sandy: The ultimate goal of Surf Ghana is to create more safe spaces for youth in West Africa and beyond, promoting freedom and opportunity through surfing and skating. We aim to expand our network of vibrant spaces and create more job opportunities in sports, culture, and the arts. Our vision is not limited to Ghana; we want to inspire similar initiatives across Africa and empower local communities to develop their own ecosystems.

Deeds: As with any initiative, there are often challenges. What limitations or hurdles have you faced while developing and managing the community?

Sandy: Building and managing a community comes with its challenges, particularly in navigating diverse interests and expectations. One of the significant hurdles has been earning the trust of the community and overcoming skepticism, especially as a woman leading in a male-dominated industry. Dealing with ego and resistance to change has also posed challenges, but our focus remains on staying true to our vision and fostering inclusivity within the community. Additionally, as a non-native Ghanaian, I've encountered xenophobia and criticism, but I remain committed to contributing positively to the country and challenging stereotypes.

Deeds: The Skate Gal Club is a fascinating initiative. Why was it crucial for you to create a dedicated group for female skaters, and what unique impact has it had on representation within the skating community?

Sandy: The Skate Gal Club was created to provide a safe and supportive environment for female skaters in Ghana. Many women were interested in participating but felt intimidated by male-dominated spaces. By offering a female-centric space, we've empowered women to embrace skateboarding and build confidence both on and off the board. The club has not only increased representation but also fostered friendships and collaboration among women from diverse backgrounds. 

Deeds: Can you share some of the ways the Skate Gal Club has influenced or empowered female skaters within your community?

Sandy: The Skate Gal Club has not only strengthened friendships and boosted confidence but also resulted in remarkable achievements. Armani's role in managing the skate park stands out as a significant accomplishment. Beyond skateboarding, the club engages in various activities like yoga sessions, art therapy, and writing workshops, fostering a supportive community where women can share challenges and successes.

Deeds: How does it feel to be at the forefront, building and establishing a pathway for young people, essentially creating opportunities from scratch within the surfing and skating community?

Sandy: Being at the forefront of building Surf Ghana and empowering young people feels immensely rewarding. I take pride in creating opportunities for others, particularly in challenging environments where access to resources is limited. Witnessing the growth of the community and the positive impact of our initiatives fuels my passion and determination to continue advocating for change. While the journey has been challenging, the achievements and progress we've made serve as a testament to the transformative power of sports and community building.

Deeds: Beyond sports, how do you envision these communities contributing to the broader societal and cultural fabric of Ghana and even globally?

Sandy: These communities have the potential to be catalysts for social and cultural change. By bringing together people from different backgrounds and disciplines, we're fostering creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Through initiatives like Skate Gal Club and Surf Ghana Collective, we're not just promoting sports; we're creating platforms for self-expression, entrepreneurship, and community development. Our goal is to inspire a new generation of leaders who will shape the future of Ghana and beyond.

We are celebrating IWD with a special women’s day edition digital cover story — starring Sandy Alibo founder of @surfghana @freedomskateparkgh @vibratespace @surfhousegh @skategalclub ! ⭐️

[International Women’s Day. March 2024]

Photography by @pxceria
Assisted by Tommy Taylor
(@tommy_taylor.xo )
Writer ✍🏿: Lana