Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Skateboarding slowly making inroads in Gaborone

Skateboarding is an extreme sport. It is the act of riding and performing tricks using a skateboard.

Falling is one of the biggest parts of skateboarding, which is why there are a handful of skaters that do it past their teenage years.

Skateboarding has grown into a popular sport amongst the urban youth of Gaborone, more especially teenagers. They use skateboarding as a recreational activity during weekends. Public areas such as the Main Mall and Molapo Crossing usually become alive with street skaters every weekend.
The past two years have seen the emergence of a number of youngsters with some serious talent. Skateboarding is a technically challenging sport, and it involves all sorts of tricks like jumps, varials, slides, degrees and grinds.

There are some tricks that may require a ramp, whereas others can be performed off curbs or on flat ground. Skateboarding is quite popular amongst teenagers in Gaborone.

There are two main skateboarding recreational groups in Gaborone. The BW crew is a youthful group of street skaters who skate at Gaborone Main Mall. During weekends, they meet and ride through obstacles.

According to Motheo ‘Larry’ Matsheka, one of the skateboarders who used to skate at the Main Mall, they got recognition from many people because they used to skate near the council buildings.
“The guards and office workers nearby used to enjoy looking at us doing kick flips and Ollie’s, so I think that’s where they noticed us and hence the Orange sponsorship,” he said.
Skateboarders perform tricks on paved surfaces and staircases. Some even use their boards as a form of transportation to and from school on a daily basis.

Maverick, a street skater from the BW crew says many people depict the sport as dangerous and harmful.

“We are not rebellious or non conforming youth who roam around looking for trouble,” he said.
Trick skating came about in Botswana, thanks to the recognition it got from cellular giant Orange Botswana. They’ve built a skate park for skaters at Molapo Crossing.
Every weekend, the skate park is host to boys clad in helmets and weird looking kneepads performing impressive tricks similar to acrobatics.

Trick skating is different.

In particular, it’s more like a parade of masculine, tough talking daredevils exemplifying what’s perhaps the defining male trait. In simple terms, it’s the willingness to risk neck-breaking injury for the sake of a good trick.

The skate park has everything needed to make Botswana’s own professional skaters. It has pipes, grind rails and vertical pits. This is where the Skate boarding crew (SBC) is now currently based. With the evolution of a skate park and ramp skating, more youth are being attracted to the sport.
The skate park has its own local flavour.

The SBC crew is more into trick skating, where everybody competes to see who has the best freestyle moves. They skate on a half pipe, which is a big obstacle where one has to ride on a steep edge.
Adrian, a.k.a Space Monkey, a student at Legae Academy, is one of the best skate boarders at Molapo Crossing. He says many people are scared of the half pipe because some go home with injuries almost every weekend.

“This is why skateboarding is better than other sports. It combines difficult manoeuvres with a teenage sense of humour,” he said.

Skate boarding video games, clothing labels, TV series have also popularized skateboarding in Gaborone.

Shops like Billabong at Riverwalk Mall are cashing in on the skateboarding craze.
Nkamo, a shop assistant, says they have increased sales on skate boarding clothing labels, such as element and DC shoe house.

“We have many teenagers ordering custom skateboards regularly,” she said.
Having been recognized by some leading private schools, skate boarding is offered as an afternoon sporting activity at Maruapula School. This is according to the school’s principal, Mr Andrew Taylor, who says they strive to keep up with popular sport trends as a way to maintain an interesting afternoon curriculum.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.