Peter Bodkin - ALTHOUGH a long way from the footy field, retired NRL legend Hazem El Masri uesterday demonstrated the same surefooted aptitude in the surf that he displayed on the wing for the Bulldogs.
El Masri enjoyed expert tuition from Manly Surf School as he took to the North Steyne breaks, joining a group of Muslim women from southwestern Sydney for the session. "It was really good, better than I expected," El Masri said.
"Dave (the instructor) was putting a bit of pressure on me, saying `now you've retired. you've probably put on a bit of weight`." The lesson was filmed as part of a series called Manly Surf, which tells stories of the instructors and students.
Despite it being his first attempt at stand-up surfing, El Masri impressed onlookers by getting to his feet and even carving across the face of several waves.
"He's ripping, he must have surfed before.. it usually takes months to get to that kind of level," series creator Daniel Starling said.
But a modest El Masri was quick to credit his instructors.
"As soon as you get some tips you can go out there properly - if you just jump out there with no idea you're going to suffer," he said.
Justin Burke - Youth Development Officer - Warringah Council
"Thanks again so much for giving the kids surf lessons. It is so nice to see local business people like you out there in the community proving services to disadvantaged groups such as the Bre guys. They had an unreal time and I couldn?t believe how quickly they picked it up.
The weather was unreal, conditions perfect and couldn?t think of a better place to be. The set up at the roy worked really well.
I wanted to acknowledge what you and Manly Surf School have done for us in the past and it is important that the Mayor and Councillors see first hand the benefits to the program and the people like you that are involved in such positive ways.
So mate thanks again, I had a good time as well as the kiddies and hope you like the photos. Cheers and talk soon."
Helen Appleton - Family Therapist - Giant Steps Sydney
"I brought a group of kids in on Saturday afternoon for a surfing lesson, and despite the shark alarms the kids had a wonderful time!
I wanted to say a huge thank you to Eden, Ryan and Brendan for being so patient and great with the kids. Many of them were very nervous and were determined to not even get in the water, and I'm thrilled that they all had a go and felt so proud of themselves for achieving something new.
Thanks again, you guys are fantastic!"