Skateistan, The Skateboarding School


Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at a skateboarding school in Kabul Afghanistan. But there is more to it than just skateboarding!

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

One day, Oliver Percovich decided to ride his skateboard. He put his board on the ground. He stood on it with one foot. He used his other foot to push the ground and move himself forward. The four wheels of the board rolled smoothly.

Voice 2  

As he rode, he was soon surrounded by children. They wanted to know what he was doing. They had never seen a skateboard before. They wanted to try for themselves. This was the first time anyone had risked riding a skateboard on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Today's Spotlight is on Skateistan. Skateistan uses skateboarding to give children a chance to learn and grow.

Voice 1  

Afghanistan has a modern history of war and fighting. From 1979 to 1989 Afghanistan was invaded by the former Soviet Union. Then a group of Afghans called the Taliban drove out the Soviet Union. In 2001, the United States defeated the Taliban. Many people did not like the Taliban. But they also did not like the new government supported by the United States.

Voice 2  

Today, there is still violence and fighting between different groups who want to control the country. People who visit Afghanistan are told to stay in guarded buildings. They are told to use body guards and drive in protected vehicles.

Voice 1  

In 2007, Oliver Percovich was visiting Afghanistan from Australia. But he did not want to stay inside. He liked to ride skateboards. So he decided to learn about the city of Kabul by riding around on a skateboard. He told The Guardian:

Voice 3  

"I found it strange that other foreigners did not get out of their vehicles. After three weeks I was telling people who had been here for two years what the city was like."

Voice 2  

As soon as he began to skateboard through the city, he was surrounded by children. They wondered what he was doing. He says,

Voice 3  

"When you pull out a skateboard and you start skateboarding around, people are very interested. And then once they tried it, they really loved it."

Voice 1  

During his time there, Percovich talked to the Afghani people and foreigners. Everyone was looking at ways to rebuild Afghanistan after many years of war. Seventy percent of the population was under 25. And this gave Percovich an idea. He could use skateboards to connect with young people in the community. He could create a skateboarding school. This was the beginning of Skateistan. Young people could meet together to use Percovich’s skateboards. Boys and girls both took part.

Voice 2  

In Afghanistan, it was very difficult to get a skateboard. Percovich spent most of 2007 trying to raise money for the skateboarding school. The money would buy skateboards and safety equipment. But he was not successful. He thought that Skateistan would have to end.

Voice 1  

For the girls of Kabul, this would be especially sad. Many Afghan girls were generally not permitted to play sports, or mix with boys. For these girls, Skateistan was a special chance to try a new sport and be physically active. Most girls in Afghanistan cannot play sports. But riding a skateboard was seen as playing with a toy, not as doing a sport. This meant that girls could do it.

Voice 2  

In 2008, the embassy of Norway gave a gift of $50,000 dollars to Skateistan. Percovich bought safety equipment for the children. He also bought more skateboards. He even paid one of the better local skateboard riders to work as his assistant.

Voice 1  

More and more children began to ride skateboards. In 2009, Percovich began Skate and Create. This program taught children to skateboard but also about human rights, culture, nutrition and the environment. This program has really helped girls in Afghanistan. In fact, Percovich has a bigger goal. He wrote on the Skatistan website,

Voice 3  

“I hope that skateboarding is so tied to education in Afghanistan that they are almost the same thing.”

Voice 2  

Skateistan is especially important for girls. It often gives girls a first chance at their own skateboard. Sikha is a part of the Skateistan program. She explains why she loves it to theskateboardmag.com

Voice 4  

“Girls should play sport. It is good for health and can help them to build their confidence and be brave. I am a girl but I can skate the same as a boy - and better than the boys sometimes. I would like to tell all girls around the world: do not look down on yourself. We have to stand and be strong for our future.”

Voice 1  

Skateistan has been able to create spaces where it is safe for children to ride their skateboards. They have even built an indoor skate park in Afghanistan. Parents require girls to have separate classes from boys. Having classes in a building lets girls continue to ride as they get older.

Voice 2  

It is still dangerous to live in Afghanistan. People must still be very careful in public places. Yet, Skateistan gathers in the same public place several times each week. They are an important part of the local community.

Voice 1  

Skateistan has now expanded. There are Skateistan program in Cambodia and South Africa. And Percovich continues to share his love for skateboarding with children around the world. He has been joined by professional skateboarders, musicans, and many other people. They support Skateistan’s important work. As Skateistan has grown, Percovich has less direct work with children. But Skateistan was never meant to be about him. It was about helping people. Percovich wrote on the skateistan.org website:

Voice 3  

“Skateboarding gives you a community to inspire you, guide you, and test you. Through skateboarding you are open to people with different ideas and from different backgrounds. This develops tolerance - respecting people who are different from you.”

Voice 2  

What sports are popular where you live? Can everyone play them - boys and girls? Do you like to skateboard? Would you like to try? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States, and from New Zealand. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Skateistan, The Skateboarding School’.

Voice 2  

Look for our free official app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What sports are popular where you live? Can boys and girls both them?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on May 21, 2018

My country is called The football country and we won the football world cup five times. So, football is the most popular sport in my country and boys and girls can play it in clubs, streets, parks and homes, every day, whitout any trouble.
I were a good football player and played for a time em good teams of Minas Gerais and Goiás.
What is my country?

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on May 24, 2018

Everyone wishes beautiful good things. No one wishes not-good things. We build for peace. We bring life peace. Beautiful good things bring life beautiful good things. Not-good things bring life not-good things. We develop beautiful good things. Not-good things need to be pushed away. Everyone wishes beautiful good things. No one wishes not-good things. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We die for beautiful good things.