This year I have been lucky enough to MC on the Skateboarding for Hope, presented by Vans, around South Africa. The tour, which is operated by the Kimberley Diamond Cup, holds events around the country with clinics and free equipment for underprivileged areas and street skate competitions for SA skaters. Having attended all the major events in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, the major revelation for me has been that Skateboarding is truly the most inclusive sport in our country. Our skateboarders come from all cultures, races and urban demographics with probably the right ratios to make even our Governments stern demand for race quotas in sport a reality. The best part though is not one of those skaters cares about race or culture in their fellow skaters. The SA Skate crew roll together as a unified group of athletes who are all friends and are all in the sport because they are passionate about skateboarding. The rest of SA could take a big lesson from these perceived rebels of society. While the skaters are competing against one another, and believe me the competition is fierce, there is nothing but support and positivity amongst the crew outside of heats. When a skater, in a heat lands a big trick, the whole event lights up and the most noise and support is coming from their fellow skaters.
Moving forward it would be incredible to see more Brands and local Governments in South Africa and Africa getting involved, following the lead set by the Northern Cape and the brands already involved such as Vans and Red Bull. Skateboarding requires a board and a pair of shoes, equipment that is also a mode of transport and the start of a dedicated sport lifestyle. It is an incredible diversion from common dangers in poor areas such as gangsterism and drugs. An old misconception is that skateboarders are rebels and into drugs, but many of the new breed of skater are profesional athletes with their eye on the prize of an international career. These are the skaters inspiring the next generation. South Africa desperately needs more parks and skateboarding areas dedicated to the kids. This becomes apparent all over the country when kids sign up to skate the competitions, not because they want to compete, but because it is the opportunity to ride a proper, world class skate park, which is setup by Old School Productions for every event. If every city council in SA committed to building just one major plaza in a central location for the cities population, I can guarantee they would notice a difference within a few short months in the local communities. Kids are drawn to skating, it is accessible and the costs are not not astronomical. Those same plazas would attract sponsored events and help fast track our own skateboarders to where they could compete overseas and earn a salary from the sport.
All in all, skateboarding in SA is growing fast and with the world’s richest skateboarding event coming to Kimberley once again from the 7-11 October, along with the World’s best skateboarders, you can expect that growth to continue.
If you would like to get involved in skateboarding go check out the KDC website or contact me – http://www.kimberleydiamondcup.com/