Oliver Percovich, a 34-year-old Australian skateboarding enthusiast, has found willing pupils among the youths of Kabul, Afghanistan, who are learning some new tricks in borrowed and donated spaces, making a play for a bit of adolescent normalcy amid the signs of war.
Click here to watch a video of Skateistan’s recruits in action.
The New York Times:
“Teenagers are trying to dissociate from old mentalities, and I’m their servant,” Percovich said. “If they weren’t interested, I would’ve left a long time ago.”
Now, when he pulls his motorcycle into a residential courtyard here, a dozen youngsters pounce before it comes to a stop, yanking six chipped skateboards with fading paint off the back. The children, most participating in a sport for the first time in their war-hardened lives, do not want to waste any time.
Their skateboard park is a decrepit Soviet-style concrete fountain with deep fissures. The tangle of novice skaters resembles bumper cars more than X Games.
But Percovich has raised the money needed to build an 8,600-square-foot bubble to house the nonprofit Skateistan complex, and the Kabul Parks Authority has tentatively donated land. He is still waiting for official permission to begin the project. And since a spate of kidnappings and the car bombing in late November, he has reduced his daily sessions at the fountain to once or twice a week.