Recently, two of our students in Afghanistan had an incredible opportunity - to travel to Nanjing, China, with the Afghan National Olympic Committee and represent Afghanistan in an international skateboarding training camp. Atefa* and Manochehr* traveled with Noorzai, our Programs Officer from Mazar-e-Sharif, who would act as their Coach during the training camp.
OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) created an opportunity to bring many young Asian skateboarders together to showcase brave skateboarders from Asian countries, ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo next year. As a coach, I traveled with Atefa (from Mazar) and Manochehr (from Kabul) to represent Afghanistan.
It was the first time for both of them to travel outside Afghanistan and the first time that they had been on an airplane.
There were 21 Asian countries who participated in this training, and all the countries were officially invited by OCA. The training mostly focused on skateboarding. Most of the days we had free skateboarding with all teams. This gave us all a chance to meet people from different countries and cultures and share our skateboarding experiences with them.
Atefa and Manochehr had chance to try out new tricks and improve their skateboarding skills.
Included in the plan that OCA had for us, we learned how to keep ourselves safe and healthy when skateboarding, and we also had training related to the Olympic values. This was focused on how to respect each other in contests even if we lose the game and this is really something we encourage at Skateistan.
There were also lots of challenges for our students. It was their first time away from Afghanistan and from their families.
Noorzai and the two students also got a chance to do some sightseeing in China, both around the city of Nanjing and within the Olympic complex. They saw the old city walls of Nanjing, which are really famous and got to try some local food. They also saw the Olympic Museum in Nanjing.
In the last two days of the camp we had a contest among all the skateboarders with different categories for girls and boys. This contest was divided into two parts (park and street). Everyone who was at the camp participated and everyone had brilliant tricks to show the others. The contest was planned to teach the athletes how it feels to compete and what they need to practise. In the boys’ competition, Afghanistan (Manochehr) got the 7th position, and for the girls, Afghanistan (Atefa) got the 6th position among the 21 countries! In a separate contest among the coaches I got 4th position and I was proud to do this for Afghanistan.
We were very happy in this training and we all learned a lot which will help us in the future.
For our students, this was the first external training that they participated in, so, their families are also super happy with Skateistan for providing these kinds of opportunities for their kids. Also we learned some new tricks, and our self-esteem increased very well.
At Skateistan we are always looking for opportunities to broaden experience and skills for our students. If you’d like to support us to help more children like Atefa and Manochehr, please consider making a donation today or joining the Citizens of Skateistan.
*Names of our students were changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy.