After many months of hard work, Skateistan has opened a new state of the art skateboarding and education facility in Mazar-e-Sharif, a city of about 400,000 in Northern Afghanistan. Skateistan staff and volunteers, from Mazar and Kabul, were joined by 250 guests to celebrate the official opening of the new project.
Skateistan presented Governor Atta with his own board and helmet, after which some of Afghanistan’s best male and female skaters, instructors from Skateistan Kabul, put on demonstrations, setting new records on the “great wall of Afghanistan”, a feature of the new park.
Bernd Kuebart, Acting Head, Extension Office Mazar-e Sharif, of the German Embassy spoke at the event, explaining that although foreign troops will be withdrawing throughout 2014, the civilian presence in Afghanistan remains. Skateistan is proud to have plans to increase the organization’s student reach by 200% moving into 2014.
The construction of Skateistan Mazar-e-Sharif has been generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, and the Embassies of Denmark and Norway in Afghanistan have provided core funding for activities in 2013.
Oliver Percovich, Skateistan’s Founder and Executive Director, thanked the guests for joining the clebration and for the support from the local and international community. He was enormously proud to be able to continue sharing a passion for skateboarding, art, sports and education with growing numbers of youth in Afghanistan.
The three part facility consists of a standalone indoor skatepark, with ramps constructed by IOU, a multi-sports faciity, and a colourful educational facilty constructed using shipping containers sourced from within Afghanistan. Guests at the event remarked that they had never seen anything like this building in the country. Providing indoor sports facilities has proven to be an essential factor in securing the ongoing participation of Afghan girls, since many are not comfortable with or not permitted to engage in sports in public.
Three hundred and thirty five students, mostly girls, have already registered for programs, and staff are excited to begin skateboarding and sports lessons with the youth June 1st.