Skateboarding according to Britannica, form of recreation and sport, popular among youths, in which a person rides standing balanced on a small board mounted on wheels and perform tricks in a real or simulated urban environment with stairs, rails, ledges, and other obstacles. Skateboarding has also developed into a youth subculture that emphasizes creativity and individuality. It is an alternative to mainstream team sports, which are more formally organized and largely controlled by adults.
Girls Skate South Africa is defined as a community organisation operating throughout South Africa with head quarters in the thriving Johannesburg Metropolitan that was founded in 2015 by Sharne Jacobs. The movement started to reduce the feeling of intimidation encountered by females in the male dominated industry, “I wanted to see more girls at skateparks and get girls comfortable enough to skate in front of the guys” Sharne said.
I reached out to Girls Skate South Africa and asked them one question, “how is it like being a skater in South Africa currently?” that got answered by three of the skaters. I want to highlight how skating is more than just a ‘men’s sport’ while also sharing the experiences of South African skaters.
Being a female skater in south Africa that’s a tough one. Uhm well, firstly it feels great that there are females such as i, who engage in such a “male dominated sport.” Thanks to skateboarding, I have developed great friendships, I have met numerous characters and I have traveled a whole lot more than I have ever done. Being a female skater is empowering. Not only do we “do tricks” just for the fun of it, we learn from each other, we teach each other and we grow together. Skating is not just a practice, it’s a way. I guess you can call it a religion although the skate community may seem welcoming, there is a lot of pressure put on female skaters. Many people expect you to be great or don’t expect you to skate at all. There are a lot of comments from people saying “girls shouldn’t skate” or “you are going to hurt yourself, this is for boys” it is discouraging but motivational at the same time. It shows that more people just need to be exposed to female skaters not only in South Africa but throughout the world.
It’s so cool because from my personal experience skateboarding has built my confidence and I’ve learnt to become fearless in overcoming challenges. I have made allot of friends from skateboarding and I’ve met allot of cool and amazing people. Girlsskate South Africa has helped me grow so much and I am so grateful, I love what they are doing for the ladies that are skating. Hosting sessions, creating a safe space for women in skateboarding, helping us out with skate shoes and skateboards. I’m happy to be part of them.
When I started skating one year ago, I had no idea what the South African skate scene had in store for me. Being a skater in South Africa feels like a privilege and a curse because we have the most talented and creative individuals yet we sometimes struggle with the locations in which we can express these things (especially compared to other countries such as the USA, Australia and countries in Europe). There are a few challenges we face but having said that we are still very fortunate and a special thing that I love the most is whenever a bunch of skaters are together- boys or girls- there’s always a hype and sense of community and belonging no matter where it is or what the conditions are. Skateboarding in this country has provided me with more opportunities than I ever dreamed of imagining. With thanks to Girls Skate South Africa, I’ve had the opportunity to meet other girls that skate and have made friends for life. At first going to the skatepark as a beginner was terrifying, but through GSSA I came to know that I can even do those crazy tricks the boys are doing if I work hard and believe in myself. I have been provided with a platform to travel to Kimberly and experience the skate culture in a different part of South Africa and I was not disappointed. Being involved in such an organization has helped me progress individually and I am so grateful to be able to have a glimpse into what is possible with skateboarding in South Africa. Skateboarding has done a lot for me and my life and I am glad to say I get to do it in this country.
To get in touch with Girls Skate South Africa;
Email: email@example.com or call: +27 27 689 2369