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TKM 55 Time to give back Duotone 21 1200x800 - Time to give back

Time to give back

Liam Whaley, like many pro kiters, has spent a lot of time honing his skills in Cumbuco, Brazil. Not content with going there year after year just to train, this time he headed over with the intention of giving something back to the community by helping out the local children who are not always able to access the sport they grow up seeing every day.

PHOTOS: Victor Beneche
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I first discovered Brazil’s northeast coast back in 2007 when I was just 11 years old. My dad would take me out of school a couple of weeks before Christmas and we would spend around a month in Brazil. I was really becoming obsessed with kiting at the time and would watch videos of my idols and dream of one day becoming a professional kiter. I remember the first day waking up in Cumbuco – I couldn’t believe my eyes – endless kilometers of white sandy beaches, warm water and a perfect 20 knots of wind. As soon as my board touched the water of Cauipe lagoon I was instantly in love with the spot. Since then I’ve spent the last 15 years going back to this place at least once or twice per year. I would spend hours and hours practicing and perfecting all of my tricks, and by the time I’d fly back home I had learnt around 20 new tricks. My progression was crazy fast.

This place has given me so much and I’ve shared so many unforgettable memories with the locals. This year I felt like it was time to go back but with a different purpose, with the purpose of giving back to the community. So I spoke to Duotone about an idea for a project and asked them if they could support me with some gear to give away to some of the kids in Cumbuco. They didn’t hesitate to jump onboard and support the project. So I headed to Brazil with around 15 kites. I really wanted to make sure that these kites would land in the hands of the right kids, kids that dream about becoming professional kiters but most importantly kids who are humble and good hearted. I joined forces with Juvenil Kite, a local association that helps kids, using kiting as a tool. Some of these kids have been bullied, some have abusive or alcoholic parents, and some are just helped with their education. Juvenil Kite organize different activities to educate and keep the kids off the street.

After a few days in Brazil we all got together and organized a day of kiting at Cauipe lagoon. It was incredible how quickly everyone came together to help me once they heard about the project and how supportive everyone was. We got around 20 kids together between the ages of eight and 15, from all different backgrounds. We set up a big tent where we had food, drinks, music and a whole lot of Duotone equipment for the kids to test out and play with. We started the day off by showing the under 12s how to kite. The emotion on their faces was absolutely priceless and it made me so happy. All of these kids came together just to have a fun day at Cauipe lagoon. None of them knew that at the end of the day I would be giving out a few brand-new kites.

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I hope to have inspired a few of the kids to dream of becoming professional kiters.

After we showed the young kids how to kite a bit we did a mini competition in three categories: juniors, pros and women. Along with my good friend and local Brazilian, Alex Neto, we stood at the edge of the lagoon and watched the kids ride. We were judging them based on the tricks they performed but also on the attitude they had on and off the water. I also got the chance to get on the water with them and throw down a few tricks myself. After a few hours of interacting with the kids, watching them ride and having a lot of fun, Alex and I had written down a few names of the people we thought deserved to be supported with some kites.

We all got together and did a prize ceremony where we talked about the importance of looking after one another, sharing as much as possible and being grateful for this community. When I got out the first kite the kids couldn’t believe it. The emotion on their faces was priceless and I will never forget it. I gave out the kites and some other goodies. Everyone was so grateful and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect turnout. Doing something like this has been extremely fulfilling. I hope to have inspired a few of the kids to dream of becoming professional kiters and given them the tools they need to do so.

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