By Jorene Barut
HONOLULU (Reuters) - Hawaii, widely considered the birthplace of modern surfing, has adopted a plan to become the first state in the union to offer the sport of island kings as an official form of athletic competition in its high schools.
Under the plan, to be paid for entirely with private funds, all of the roughly 50,000 students in the state's 46 public high schools will be eligible to ride Hawaii's famous waves as a school-sponsored extramural sport by the spring of 2013.
"There have been surf clubs in schools for about four years, and surfing is a prominent sport in Hawaii, so it was a natural transition to offer school-sanctioned surf clubs," state Education Department spokesman Alex Da Silva said on Tuesday.
"It also offers something motivational for those who don't participate in other sports, like football and volleyball," he said.
The plan, which has been in the works for four years, was announced by Governor Neil Abercrombie, the Education Department, the Hawaii State Board of Education and pro surfer Carissa Moore on Monday.
The plan's original cost estimate was $150,000 per year, and about a third of that sum already has been secured from outside sources, Da Silva said, adding that the rest will also come from private contributions.
"Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing. From Duke Kahanamoku to the thousands of residents and visitors who surf ... the sport is rooted in our culture and way of life," Abercrombie said in a statement.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)