Yama: A Journey to Ghana | Lucy Small & Maddie Meddings

Lucy made waves in the sports industry in 2021 after winning a surf comp in Sydney - and noticed her winnings were less than half of that of her male counterpart. She called them out, sparking vital debate about gender equity and the value placed on the contributions of men and women in surfing and society. 

Along with filmmaker Maddie Meddings, Lucy also co-directed and produced a documentary film called ‘Yama‘, exploring the burgeoning surf and skateboarding scene in Ghana. The documentary aims to challenge negative representations of African nations in Western media and showcase the beauty and richness of Ghanaian culture.

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"The Fantes are the people who populate the area where female surfers live. Yama is their name for the wooden boats that still cross Ghana's shoreline today."


Photography by Maddie Meddings

What’s your name?

Lucy Small



What do you do (in a nutshell)?

Omg so many things! I am a surfer primarily, but I also run a campaign for gender equality in sport called Equal Pay for Equal Play, I make women's surf films, I'm a surf journalist and somewhere in there do some political/campaigns advising.

How did you get there?

I studied for a long time, travelling in between, and feeling really unsure about what I wanted to do and what my purpose was. I spent a lot of time travelling through Africa in my early 20s, competing in longboarding events, and studying anthropology and journalism in a kind of drawn out sporadic way.

Eventually, at the end of 2018, I came home to my parents' place in Western Australia after six months away, and decided to go back to uni to do something I was actually passionate about and wanted to focus on. So I moved to Sydney to do a masters in Peace and Conflict Studies which I got so much out of.

The pandemic hit in the middle of that course, so for the first time I was staying in one place and putting energy into building a community. In 2021 I was planning to start a PhD, when in a split-second decision I called out a surf contest for awarding unequal prize money to the men and women in a moment that changed so much for me.

It became a big media moment that I didn't want to let pass without having real impact, so I launched Equal Pay for Equal Play along with Kate Allman, who is a sports journalist. I then also landed a job in politics as an advisor, and life became so busy in Sydney. I didn't end up starting the PhD, and over the last few years have managed to secure some important changes to NSW Government policy to move us closer toward having equal prize money for all sports in the state.

In early 2022 I was approached by the sustainable wetsuit brand Project Blank who asked me to make a surf film for them. So I went to Ghana and made Yama with British filmmaker Maddie Meddings, which is about this awesome community of female surfers and skaters over there. This launched my filmmaking path, and in January this year we shot our second project in Ecuador. 

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Where’s home? 

I am originally from a town called Denmark, five hours drive south of Perth in Western Australia. I have moved around a lot but for the psat five years I have been Sydney based. But, just a few weeks ago, I moved to Southwest France!

What inspires you to do what you do? 

I really care deeply about trying to make this world in better, and doing everything I can to fix some of these human-made problems - both social and environmental. I believe we should all be using the skills that we have to contribute to the transformation of the world around us to become a more equal, gentle and kind place.

I am so inspired by all of the women who I have been lucky enough to meet through my travels and my advocacy work - the incredible athletes who fight every day on and off the field, the surfer girls from Mozambique to Bangladesh who are surfing against the odds, and all of the women who don't get a spotlight on them but keep going every day, working for their communities and for the planet. 

What does soul mean to you? 

I haven't really thought about this - I'm not a very introspective person. I do think that if there is something that sets you on fire - a kind of story that brings tears to your eyes or makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end - then it's probably something that you care about and it's worth following. 

What’s next for you? 

Well, I just arrived in France so I don't really know! We are working on the post production stage of our new Ecuador film (doesn't have a name yet) and otherwise I am just going to enjoy life for a while and prioritise being in the water.