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From unemployment to building ‘Surf Wine Tours’ through surfing

Surfstainability Portugal

From unemployment to building ‘Surf Wine Tours’ through surfing

N: 38°42’20.56″ W: -9°23’51.83″

Mário had a good and peacfull life and nothing seemed wrong. However, the moment his old employer entered bankruptcy and was taken over by another company, his life was turned upside down. We talked to him about his old work, time without work and how surfing literally turned his life around.

How can surfing offer a future?

Earlier this year I spoke António, the head-honcho of the Surfrider Foundation Portugal chapter. We had a great convocation and he told me everything about what they do and how he ended up working with the Surfrider Foundation. I asked how he used to (and still does!) know everything about surfing. He is and always will be closely involved with this sport – and he will continue to surf, teach and spread all his knowledge.

Antonio told me about his NGO Surf Social Wave, an organization that helps people without a job or those facing tough circumstanced in life by using surfing (of course). I thought it was a wonderful story, but the penny hadnt dropped in my mind yet. When I was back in the Netherlands, I asked António if I could still get in touch with someone who had gone through the path to recovery with Surf Social Wave. Mário Vidal was certainly open to this and this eventually became a very inspiring, cheerful and special conversation.

Read on after the pictures…

António and the participants (Mário on the right)
Mário during the project

Nothing in life is guaranteed

In the old days, during Mário’s high school years, his father always told him, “Son, go work for a boss later, then at least you have some certainty”. Although he was never certain that this was truly what he wanted for himself, he decided that promise of stability was an appealing option. For a few years he was happy with his life and worked at a media community company. He was having a great time here, largely because he worked a lot for a magazine that’s key focus was wine. He could never have known that this would play an important role in his life later.

It had been a while since the company where Mário worked was taken over by another player in the industry. Nothing seemed to be going wrong at first, but it soon became apparent that something was happening behind the scenes. Rumors of money problems circulated and it wasn’t long until Mário was left without a monthly salary. The certainty his father had always told him came with industry jobs was no longer an option.

Part of the project was growing confidence in yourself

Unemployed = Endless time to surf

Mário’s first words during our video call were: ”I’m very happy to share my testimony about António’s project”. During the conversation (which lasted more than an hour) he glimmered constantly, with a smile from ear to ear. The enthusiasm was contagious! His love and appreciation was obvious when talking about both António and about his own new company Surf&Wine Tours – but more about that later.

When he was unemployed, he happened to encounter an ad from António’s NGO Surf Social Wave. This organisation focuses on people without work or who have afound themselves out of reach of the labor market. Signing up to this program turned out to be a life changing event for Mário. Based on António’s methods, Mário brought structure into his life and turned a plan into a real business.

Read on after the pictures…

Mário during the project
Surf Social Wave

The power of a leader

Mário has nothing but praise left for António. I asked him what kept him going through the program as any form of recovery can have its challenges. He said, ”The drive antónio has is really unreal. He did everything we could to make a change in our lives. We laughed, thought about life and of course surfed a lot. ”

When Mário fell out of a job, he in some ways became stronger through the program of SSW. As in the Netherlands, jobs often require seective training and complex application process’s that can be daunting to those searching for work for the first tim ein their adult lives. However, the training and guidance offered by António and the rest of the organisation filled that void for Mario. However, ultimately it was the drive and perseverance at Surf Social Wave that had an infinite impact on the participants, including Mario.

A surprise trip to Biarritz towards the end of the route

”We were given presentations from people who had been in our shoes and had now set up a beautiful company and life for themselves. We learned from their mistakes (because they too had been deep in a valley – even at the times when it seemed to go better). These meeting held so much value for me too hear that i was not the only one. We also received a lot of relevant information about entrepreneurship, how setting up a company works and what you should think about in particular” , Mário cheerfully continued. ”The real case studies, we had so much to do with that’.

The power of surfing

António also brought the participants into contact with his greatest passion: surfing. From lesson 1 Mário (like many other participants) was sold. Although he lived near the beach, he had never surfed. For about 3 months, the group received a weekly surf lesson, from António and his team. They immediately showed us (without mentioning too) what the power of ‘service with attention is ‘, a helpful leason to be shown too anyone thinking of starting a business. The effort they made with the surf lessons alone has inspired Mário very much.

Mário’s first surf lesson at Surf Social Wave

Surfing was a new passion for Mário, one that he would love to combine with his longstanding affection for Portugal national product: Wine. While working for the media communication agency he had a lot to do with wine. With colleagues he practiced how to learn to recognize a wine by its taste (the region where it comes from, the type of grape, the species etc.). And so Mário’s idea arose for Surf&Wine Tours, where he would introduce these 2 beautiful products and passions, that are very important to Portugal as a whole, to a growing tourism market.

Mário presents his idea to the other participants

The attention and effort that antónio had put into the program of SSW inspired Mario. He now implements his own passion and the lesons he as learned at SSW as he takes people along the best vineyards and to the best boutique hotel in Portugal. 5 nights with Mario and you will sleep well every time, enjoy the best lunches with surf lessons at Portugal’s best surf plaice.

Thank you so much for sharing your special and inspiring story Mário! We have been inspired by your courage to get u when life knocks you down and the effort you have put into building this great company. We at SurfaWhile hope to surf with you soon!

Surfing photo with Mario

Photo credit: Surf Social Wave

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