Skating in the right direction

Bradley Henry from Westridge and Shuaib Philander from Kensington patch up the skateboard park, in Westridge Gardens.

A group of skateboarders are on a mission to patch up the holes at the Westridge Gardens skateboard park to make it safer and to promote the sport.

Shuaib Philander, 28, founder of 20sk8, a collective of skateboarders from 20 different skateboarding communities across Cape Town, said there was still a lot of work to be done.

“We want to kill the negative stigma behind skateboarding.

“It allows for the same opportunities as any other sport and will be in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he said.

Shuaib, who was Wild in the Park (WITP) South African skateboarding champion in 2015, said if the facility is not maintained, the sport and interest in it will not grow.

He said the collective came up with the name 20sk8 in Westridge Gardens in 2011.

The 20 also represents the common number in the “numbers gangs” so they chose to use it in a more positive way.

“We saw all of the gang names graffitied all over the park and we wanted to turn that negative into a positive, which children can turn to,” he said.

Skateboarding was then still seen as a rebellious pasttime associated with breaking the law but for the collective, they were just trying to do what they loved.

“We want to continue driving a positive message by constantly promoting those with talent and belief in themselves to develop their skills,” he said.

The group includes skateboarders from Hout Bay, the southern suburbs, Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plain, Hanover Park, Cape Town CBD, Belhar and Durbanville.

In 2016 they registered the group as a business, offering skateboard coaching, ramps, mobile skateboard parks and professional demonstrations.

Shuaib said colonialism entrenched the dominance of one group over another and apartheid’s spatial planning further backed people into corners and small spaces where they would feel trapped.

However, “There is no race, religion or class or the skateboard park,” he said.

Shuaib said unfortunately, the sport has been dominated by businesses, who have no relation to the skateboarding industry.

He said because of this, skateboarders have been marginalised.

It is his hope that the community will be able to run the skateboarding industry itselft.

Shuaib said the social responsibility arm of 20sk8 will be called Eduskeight, where they will bring together skateboarding and tuition to help pupils excel in the sport and at school.

They are speaking to sponsors and partners to employ skateboard coaches and tutors, and buy equipment.

“Our future goals are to own a skate school, register skateboarding as a sport in the Western Cape and take the same concept to other provinces so the community will decide on its South African team and coach them,” he said.

Local skate hero Bradley Henry, 23, from Westridge, who has been skateboarding since 2007, said he joined 20sk8 in 2014.

“It basically saved my skateboarding. I excelled.

“I learned to market myself, self-respect and how to address other people,” he said.

Bradley often hangs out at the skateboard park, where he coaches loitering children, or those who come from broken households.

For more information email twentyskeight@gmail.com or call Shuaib on 084 064 1042.