It’s 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Surrounded by members of the local community, eager-looking children and their families, an Australian man cuts the ribbon on Afghanistan’s biggest indoor sports facility. Skateistan is officially open.
Fast forward 10 years and there’s a crowd gathered once again at the Skate School. The skatepark is full of people, skaters are showing off their skills and there’s a sense of festivity in the air. Skateistan Kabul is celebrating 10 years of continuous operations in the city.
29 October 2009 was a very special day in the history of Skateistan as we opened our first ever Skate School in Kabul. What had started as a few informal skate sessions in a disused fountain had turned into a physical space where children, who had no other opportunity to take part in sports, could play, skate and learn. It was a chance for them to simply be children - having fun and learning new skills, shutting out the world beyond Skateistan’s walls.
Kabul remains a dangerous place and the last ten years have seen an increase in attacks and insecurity. Life for our students is often very challenging, even frightening at times and feeling safe is not something they can take for granted. But our Skate School has remained a haven of safety, freedom and fun for hundreds of children in Kabul throughout everything the city has experienced. There are almost 400 students who come regularly to Skateistan in Kabul and over 800 participations every week. The range of programs we offer to those children has only increased over the last decade - providing creative education, skateboarding and other sporting activities for children from 5 to 17 years old.
The team in Kabul continues to do an incredible job in a very challenging situation. Their passion, dedication and ingenuity means that we can keep providing a safe space for the children of Kabul, despite the insecurity of the world outside our walls. On 29 October 2019, exactly 10 years since the opening ceremony of Skateistan in Kabul, the team held a community event to celebrate a decade of skateboarding and learning. Skate demos, songs, speeches and cake (always an essential at a Skateistan event in Afghanistan) marked the occasion.
Oliver, our Founder and Executive Director, who cut the ribbon at the Kabul Skate School 10 years ago, had this to say:
Fatima is the Community Educator in Kabul and has been working with us since the early days - she joined in 2010 when the Skate School was brand new. At the 10 year celebration, she made a speech and said:
Thanks to everyone who has made it possible to Keep Skateistan Rolling in Kabul all this time. Staff, volunteers, partners and those who donate to Skateistan every month make a difference to these students every day. Thanks to your support, we’re able to bring a little fun, freedom and opportunity to their lives.