Floored by the skateboard

rising trend

It might seem like a foreign concept in a place that’s used to kabbadi and lagori. But there is no doubt that the skateboarding culture is growing in the City, with hundreds taking to the streets and parks to pursue this new-found hobby of theirs.

The age group ranges from five to those in their early 30s, who are more serious about the sport. Raashid Kazi, who works at the Play Arena in Sarjapur, informs, “Many parents, who send their kids to learn this view it as a visual sport more than something like rollerblading. They don’t understand the technical aspect of the sport or the need for good quality skateboards. But it’s definitely picking up in Bangalore and we even get visitors from the other end of town. It’s a gradual growth because the initial investment for the equipment is high. But the monthly membership is Rs 1000, which isn’t too bad a deal.”

A group of skateboarding enthusiasts called ‘HolyStoked Collective’ struggled to start Bangalore’s first skate park in HSR Layout, which is now closed due to bureaucracy.
“When we started, we saw a lot of enthusiasm among street kids. So we gave them proper shoes, skateboards and even helped them learn English. But we had to shut it down because the municipal authorities issued a notice contending that the activities in the skate park were causing nuisance to the only neighbour next to it! The order of the authorities has now been challenged before the appropriate legal forum and the same is pending consideration,” shares Somanna Mekerira Raghupathy, a founding member.
But he feels that the culture is growing with more sponsors being involved and people trying to build more skate parks.

 “If a new park is built, over 200 skateboarders will be born! But the limitation is that the good boards cost a lot and those who buy the cheaper ones dismiss the hobby because it’s not the experience they bargained for. Still, the international community is really impressed by how it’s taken off here and events like India’s first-ever international skateboarding competition ‘Third Eye Tour’ saw more numbers than we imagined,” adds Somanna.

Mayur Nanda, a skateboarder, compares the scenario here to the one in Abu Dhabi. He says, “Back home, there are lots of great spots to skate at but here, the pavements and roads are quite terrible. I didn’t skate initially because other than the lack of space, the way people stared here felt strange. But I started practising at a basketball court and then at the ‘HolyStoked’ park, which is slightly far and expensive in terms of travel. Still, those guys are working incredibly hard to make skateboarding more accessible to people here.”

The number of women skateboarders is also on the rise. “I was lucky to know one of the members of ‘HolyStoked Collective’. When I tried skateboarding out, I instantly fell in love with it. There are just two of us currently but I can see more girls wanting to learn this. It’s still a new concept. So we can actually turn it into something that both men and women can enjoy. There are some girls who try it out and feel inferior but I have a friend, who is still in school and way better than her brother,” shares Atita Verghese, who is working to promote the sport among women.

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