At first glance, Afghanistan, occupied by U.S. forces since 2001, does not seem like a good place for a sport largely associated with American teenagers. But when Australian skateboarders Oliver Percovich and Sharna Nolan arrived in Kabul in 2007, they could scarcely have foreseen the amount of interest their activities would generate.
Everywhere that Percovich and Nolan went, they were surrounded by boys and girls of all ages, who wanted to learn how to skate. Despite having just three decks between them, they were able to open a rudimentary skateboarding school. Their success encouraged them to think bigger, and in October 2009 Skateistan, Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, was opened.
The school is built on land donated by the Afghan National Olympic Committee and caters to over 300 students, around half of whom are girls. Most Afghan sports, such as football and kite flying, are generally seen as male activities, but skateboarding is viewed by Afghans as a suitable activity for girls. The school also provides lessons to disabled children and offers classes in art, crafts, and multimedia. In 2011, a documentary about the school was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.
Aside from functioning as a skateboarding school, Skateistan was officially registered as an Afghan NGO in July 2009. It works in collaboration with other charity organizations, where it “engage[s] Afghan children through skateboarding and provide[s] them with greater access to education, healthcare and cultural opportunities.”
Know Before You Go
The park is located in the Afghan National Olympic Committee compound.