Unfortunately, I lost contact with Fernando but his words stuck with me. I wanted to find out more about how kiteboarding had affected other kids in Brazil and found three families in the town of Paracuru that have sons with dreams similar to Fernando’s son. Here are their stories.
Icaro Barroso: 17 Years Old, Riding for 3 Years
Icaro’s father Rogerson started kiting about five years ago. As a seasoned surfer, he taught himself with a trainer kite and progressed very fast from there. Two years later, he taught his son Icaro how to kite.
Icaro said, “My father started before me, so he taught me and I always find the sport fun and challenging! I love kiteboarding because of the adrenaline and it allows me to be healthy and be in the ocean. When it’s not windy, I like to play soccer and basketball with my friends, but my week is pretty busy. I go to school from 7 am to 5 pm and then have to do my homework at night. I can only kite on weekends but when I do, I kite every possible second I can!”
Before kiteboarding, Icaro’s father was a photographer, mostly shooting weddings and birthday parties. After he started kiting, he thought that repairing kites would be a great help to his family’s income as his wife already had sewing machines for fixing clothes. Now Icaro is learning how to fix kites from his mom and dad to save money for the future and get more gear. His father said, “I want my son to learn and keep the business but I also want him to go to school, graduate, and do whatever he wants for his future.”
Rogerson said that kiteboarding has brought more jobs, restaurants, bed and breakfast properties, and more tourists to his community which has been very good. “First, kiteboarding gives you the positive discipline in life. Second, kiteboarding takes the kids out of drugs and other bad habits. In my case it’s also good that I can be with my son more as well!” He added that he would like to see more opportunities from the kite schools for the local kids to learn who have no money.
As for Icaro, he loves kiteboarding but would like for visitors to be more considerate of others while in the water and to respect the basic right of way rules known around the world. When Icaro was asked if he thought he would be involved in kiteboarding for a long time, his response was, “Yes, as long as my knees hold in place!”
Rafael Ferriera de Sousa: 18 Years Old, Riding for 4 Years
For Rafael, it all started when a visiting tourist gave him a trainer kite.Rafael flew it for about a year and felt he was ready for the real stuff. Since then, due to Raphael’s passion and dedication, he has placed fourth in the Ceara 2009, fifth in Ceara 2010, and sixth in the Brazilian 2010 competitions. His typical day consists of going to school and then helping his father at a local restaurant for an hour before he can go kite for four to five hours a day. “Kiteboarding helps me get the stress out of my other daily activities like school and work,” said Rafael. “I will kite for the rest of my life!” Like Icaro, if he could change anything about kiteboarding in his local community it would be to give more opportunities to other kids less fortunate than him.
Raimundo, Rafael’s father, is happy that his son is so dedicated to kiteboarding. “Instead of being involved with drugs, Rafael has developed good friendships and is doing better in school because he can’t kite if he does not have good grades. Also, the sport showed him new opportunities to work in the kite industry as well as possibly becoming an instructor. Kiteboarding has opened a new horizon for him.”
When asked how he would like to see kiteboarding become more involved in his community, Raimundo replied that he would like to see more opportunities for the local people to work in kiteboarding as many foreign kite schools bring in instructors from their own countries for the season. Like any father, Raimundo wants the best for his son and is working hard to give Rafael the education he needs so he has more options in his future.
Luis Emmanuel Nascimento: 19 Years Old, Kiting for 7 Years
Luis would enthusiastically watch the kiters in Paracuru ride while dreaming of the time when he himself might be able to join them. He developed a friendship with a visiting kiter who helped pay for his lessons and he hasn’t stopped kiting since. Luis said, “I love the water and kiting is a good excuse for me to spend a lot of my time on it!”
His training has paid off earning him fifth place in the Ceara 2009, fifth pace in Ceara 2010, and fourth place in the Brazilian 2010 events. After school, he usually manages to get in two or three two-hour sessions every day. His mom, Maria Elisete, said about kiteboarding, “Like in any other sport, there are good and bad influences but kiteboarding showed me that my son can be a better person, making good friends from all over the world and giving him the opportunities to speak another language.”
Luis would like to see kiteboarding companies and schools help more kids with kite lessons, used or new gear, and sponsorships. As to his future,his goal is to become world champion and then to coach the next generation of future champions. He said, “I want to work in kiteboarding, so I see myself involved in the sport for the rest of my days.”
My chance meeting with Fernando made it clear to me that if kiteboarding can have such a positive influence on Fernando and his son’s lives as well as the families interviewed in this story, it can have a positive influence on many more kids’ lives not only in Brazil, but in other kiteboarding destinations around the world.
This was the inspiration that led me to create a charity foundation called Kite4Kids last year. It’s just now getting off the ground, but its mission is to raise funds to support kiteboarding for underprivileged kids in Northeastern Brazil. Whether it be having equipment that is safe and works properly or paying for entry fees for kiteboarding competitions, Kite4Kids is a means for kids like Fernando’s son, Rafael, Icaro, and Luis to achieve their dreams in kiteboarding and hopefully also have a positive impact on the community they live in.
I hope this article has revealed an insight as to how kiteboarding can make a big difference in many people’s lives in more ways than just the sheer pleasure of riding.
For more information or to learn how you can get involved, visit www.Kite4Kids.org