On a personal journey to Afghanistan, passionate skateboarder Oliver Percovich found himself ‘rolling’ the rugged streets of Kabul. Captivated by how children gravitated towards his board when they tried it out, the Australian saw a connection that could help create bonds beyond social barriers. Since there are cultural limits to Afghan girls playing football, riding bicycles or participating in other traditional male-dominated sports in a society that is rigidly restrictive of women’s lives, skateboarding provides a loophole that gives girls a family outside of their homes.
In 2007, Percovich founded Skateistan, a nonprofit organisation which uses skateboarding and education for youth empowerment – welcoming students of all ethnicity, gender, religion or social background to their Skate Schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Today this award-winning organisation runs their programmes, Skate and Create, Back-to-School and Youth Leadership in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Phnom Penh and Johannesburg. Skateistan reaches over 1,500 youth aged 5-17 every week.
“Skateboarding is now the largest female sport in Afghanistan”, said Percovich in a 2014 TED talk in Sydney. But skateboarding itself doesn’t unlock new opportunities. “The key is the power of sharing something you love and, with persistence, it can grow into something quite unexpected and truly amazing.”
Skateistan are No.1 on the Best Atlas projects 2015. Find out what else made the list here.
A Canadian blading, fixed gear, hip hop fan and technology geek lost in Spain.
Oliver Percovich, Founder