Skateboarding is a common underground sport which was born sometime in the late 1940’s, originating from surfers in California who wanted to be able to continue doing what they love when the waves weren't available, which was due to exceptionally good weather which left the waves extremely flat the majority of the time. Skateboarding has now become a huge phenomenon reaching unexpected heights, becoming a global sport which is finding its place among traditional activities like tennis and football. However, is skateboarding available for everyone to the same extent as other accepted sports, which are done care free universally? well, most would certainly agree that skating doesn't follow the same acceptance everywhere like other orthodox hobbies, its in fact forbidden in most areas and frowned upon by many citizens.
In small towns and villages skating is increasingly becoming more popular, even if most parents are resistant to the idea of their children skating, but as it becomes more fashionable, more people want to get involved with the sport which is low cost and self taught, becoming convenient for a lot of young people. However the same issue is emerging in all towns, where councils are trying to ban the sport and small skate parks which a lot of people rely on. An example of where this is starting to become an emerging nuisance and effecting many skaters, would be in a small town called Kettering in Northamptonshire, where the council are trying to operate a skating ban attempting to pass a ‘Public Spaces Protection Order’, which would herald a ban on skateboarding in the town centre. This of course would affect many skaters in a negative way, as its a form of transport and also pursuing their main passion, which is evidently unfair to stop someone doing what they live for. The Conservative Manifesto for the Local Elections in 2015 had also stated that they would “help local sports teams realise their own aspirations within their home towns.”, which again shows skateboarding being victimised and left out from other sports which are accepted in the town.
Dion Higginson is a local skater in Kettering and faces these issues on a daily basis of pedestrians and police forces disapproving of his hobby which he has loved from a young age. He has recently had the opportunity arise of skating in London every weekend since September 2015, due to visiting his parter who has recently moved to South London. This has been a eye opener to what the city brings for young skaters like himself, as its a whole new world of skating and opportunities for him being in a city, that would be physically impossible and rejected in his home town. This is what Dion had to say for skaters who face the same struggle and who are looking for an escape.
Q. What difficulties came from skating in a town?
A. having such little to skate in a town makes it really difficult to be able to improve on your skills, you either just become good at one area of skateboarding, such as flat ground which would be a main skill to have because you only need yourself and your skateboard. However, as good as that is for learning, it really stumps your ability to skate everything thats out there in skateparks and really does limit your fun, when skating should be as versatile as possible. It’s also not accepted by pedestrians who moan at us when we skate through town, however its our main form of transport and is of course dangerous to skate on the roads.
Q. Did you ever get in to any trouble whilst skating?
A. police are vey hot on skateboarding in small towns because people like to complain as we have to skate in public places to get the most out of our town. When i was younger we used to skate in a underground carpark to get away from crowds and bad weather. it got really bad for a few years as the police and even security guards would threaten to break or confiscate our skateboards, which is really unfair and unacceptable. Police grew very disapproving of us skating the underground carpark to the point where they would chase us, even kids as young as 13 would get chased away just for doing what they enjoy. This one time me and my friend where skating the underground carpark of Morrison’s and a big police van pulled up and threatened to take our skateboards away from us, so as youngsters we just ran, they chased us for a couple miles closer to where we lived and my friend got caught because he was just behind me and they took him to a cell for a couple hours. I’ve also been taken home to my parents at the age of 17 for skating in a town and my parents just couldn't understand why they would go through such extents to stop kids having their fun in an innocent way, when theres real crimes that don't get that sort or treatment.
Q. How did it feel the first time for you skating in London?
A. It felt very homey and accepted as people seemed genuinely interested and in ore at the determination an average skater goes through to maintain their skill. I was also taken away by how many awesome locations there are to skate in London too, some in very cool places and some in fields which is also a very nice thing to have.
Q. how and why is it better for people to skate in a city?
A. people are so much more interested in skating and almost encourage you to skate and be able to do it freely, this is evident through skateparks which are tourist areas, where people stop and take photographs and ask you about the sport itself and some people even want to film you and do interviews with you. Skating in London feels more like home in that sense because its so much more involved, much more than a small minded town could be. even just skating through parts of the city feels awesome, you don't get glared at for doing what you love, people happily step to the side and even some people praise you as you skate by.
Q. What do you think you will achieve from skating in London?
A. Meeting highly skilled skateboarders from all over the world can come with endless opportunities, as you never know who you're going to meet in London. I have also come across people who have wanted to promote me through their media which has been good for me to have some footage and photography of me skating in London. Also just feeling like you're more involved in what you love and a really good mindset on how people see it in a big city. Skating in London will also be good for me to improve my skills, as I'm skating parks that are completely different to one another, which makes you extremely versatile to skating new obstacles which is so good for competition skateboarding, the more you're comfortable with skating the better.
This evidently shows what London brings to small town skaters as the opportunities are endless. Southbank skatepark is one of the many skateparks in London which provides this set of circumstances, as is located right next to London’s most commercial, touristy areas, as its placed on the river themes and located besides the London Eye and places like Madame Tussauds. Therefore, to have a skate park in a location which brings many visitors to Southbank wheres they chose to watch skaters is satisfying and completely different from how it would feel in a small town, as people praise you in London and watch you in ore of the raw talent within skating.
London also provides more opportunities in the sense that it enables people to skate through the harshest weathers that England can bring during the winter, where the surfaces are too wet and its far too windy and cold outside. This is a major struggle for skaters in small towns as it prevents them from skating during the wet seasons, damaging their ability and stopping them from progressing their skills. However, London consists of several indoor skate parks, such as House of Vans in Lambeth North which is a free in door skatepark, therefore the weather in London can’t defeat skaters, enabling them to skate all year round.
That being so, if you are skateboarder who lives in a small town, it might be time for you to relocate to the big city London, so you can finally reach your full potential and skate freely whilst being accepted and admired by many.
Whitney Virgo - email@example.com