Skateistan is a Kabul-based Afghan NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), which is non-political, independent, and inclusive of all ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds. In 2007, professional Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich, arrives in Afghanistan to follow his girlfriend who was at that time involved in an humanitarian project.
A new school
The idea is to use the skateboard as a tool for empowerment, giving young people a voice and a place to shape projects according to their needs. As soon as the two Australian skateboarders dropped their boards in Kabul in 2007, they were surrounded by the eager faces of children of all ages who wanted to learn how to skate. Stretching out the three boards they had brought with them, they developed a small skate school.
A group of Afghan friends (aged 18-22) who were naturals at skateboarding shared the three boards and quickly progressed in their new favourite sport—and this is how skateboarding hit Afghanistan. The founders’ success with their first students prompted them to think bigger: by bringing more boards back to Kabul and establishing an indoor skateboarding venue, they were able to teach many more youth, and also to provide older girls with a private facility to continue skateboarding.
The skate park
On October 29, 2009, Skateistan completed construction of an all-inclusive skate park and educational facility on 5428 square meters of land donated by the Afghan National Olympic Committee. The indoor section was graciously built by IOU Ramps.
Also, Skateistan has emerged as Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school where skate is taught both to male and female students. The school aims to build indoor and outdoor skateboarding facilities in which youth can come together, forge bonds that transcend social barriers. Here, they’re enabled to affect change on issues that are important to them.
The movie: To live and skate in Kabul
In 2010, the lives of two Skateistan students, Murza and Fazila, through the streets of Kabul, have become a documentary, “To Live and Skate in Kabul”, directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel and sponsored by Diesel New Voices. After winning two awards at the L.A. Skate Film Festival in September, legendary director Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and the Z-Boys and Riding Giants) wrote to Von Einsiedel saying “the film really knocked me out, it brought tears to my eyes and made me realize why I’ve ridden a skateboard all of my life.”
The film: To live and skate in Kabul