, 2022-07-25 03:20:02,
Kiteboarding, where you harness the power of the wind using a kite to steer your board, is a very new sport in India, only around three months old. New to be recognised anyway, it was being practised by a handful of professionals in the coasts of Tamil Nadu for the last decade. Arjun Motha, 33, is one of them. He is also the founder of Aqua Outback, which teaches the sport to aspirants, including tourists.
He is an ‘environmentalist athlete’, according to his Instagram profile. He explains how growing up with the ocean in the backyard fuelled his desire for a sustainable sport. How diving, swimming and snorkelling brought him close to marine life and the pollution threatening it. Kite boarders have mobilised local residents to go green as well as turned Tamil Nadu into a water sports hub. As kiteboarding will debut as a sport in the Paris Olympics in 2024 and India has already started holding professional leagues, the sport has officially transitioned from ‘fun’ to ‘viable career’. With Hindustan Times Digital, Motha discusses what lies ahead
Your Instagram profile says you are an environmentalist. Tell us more
I grew up by the ocean as a child. My father studied zoology and would show us different species around the ocean. As I grew up, I started seeing a decline in those species. So I started creating environmental awareness programmes for kids in school about marine life and ecosystems. I have also conducted many beach clean-ups with youth and local communities on how plastic affects ocean life. In 2015, a group of friends and I kayaked 160 km from Rameshwaram to Tuticorin, we pedalled for the environment, educating locals and fishing villages on ocean life and its importance.
Growing up by the sea made me sensitive to the ocean and protecting it, as some of my best memories as a child were by the sea. I’d like to share similar experiences with future generations before it’s too late.
So how did an environmentalist become a kiteboarding champion? How did the journey begin?
It all started with just swimming and snorkelling. Eventually I learnt about sustainable angling, which taught me a lot about tides, marine species, and seasons of the ocean. Through it all, I noticed a decline in species in recent years. But I also saw marine life thriving in some spots, which gave me hope. The only way I could help was by getting locals to switch from non-sustainable fishing to alternate livelihoods, like kayak guides and snorkelling guides. As time…
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