Abseits des versauten westlichen Lebensstils gibt's tatsächlich noch manche, die sich um ihre Mitmenschen kümmern. Und zwar nicht indem sie irgendeiner dubiosen Spendenfirma Geld in den Arsch schieben und sich dann getrost die Hände reiben und glauben, damit wäre es getan. Oliver Percovich handhabt das alles ein bisschen anders. Er bringt Menschen in Afghanistan das Skaten bei. Wieso wir ihn dazu auf englisch und nicht auf deutsch befragt haben, wissen wir zwar selber nicht, aber wir haben jedenfalls mit ihm geredet.
VICE: There is so much violence and intolerance in this world. Why did you start this project
Oliver Percovich: Exactly because there is so much violence and intolerance in this world. If everyone
rode a skateboard the world would be a much better place.
Wouldn’t there be more (good) feedback from western countries where
skateboarding is already popular?
No, over the last 28 years of skateboarding I have never come across much
acceptance of skateboarding as in Afghanistan. We have never been asked to leave
any skate spots in public places ever. Police, soldiers and public officials all just want
to have a go on the skateboard rather than telling us we can’t skate. That is a new
experience for me. Western countries are largely intolerant of skateboarders and
skateboarding. We have been forced to Afghanistan, where they know how to treat
skateboarders with respect.
It kind of seems to me like „forced blessings“. Because in western countries
skateboarding is definitly a cool thing to do, so would you like it to be that cool also in
the Middle East countries?
Firstly, Afghanistan is not in the Middle East, it is in
Central Asia. Secondly, the girls that skate here are already cooler than any girls
anywhere else. They aren’t spoilt and they appreciate the opportunity to show the
boys that they can do sport just as well. It wasnt’t forced on them. We showed them
skateboards and they took like ducks to water. They slam just as hard as the boys
and get straight back up again. There is one girl Fatana (10) who is especially tough.
She comes from Kandahah.
Why skateboarding and not playing football, gymnastics or whatever? And why not
traditional afghan games?
Because it is new, it is interesting for the kids. There are
no girls playing any other sports in public places. Females aren’t allowed to ride
bicycles, climb fences or play football. Skateboarding is seen as a sport that both
sexes can do. We have managed to do that because they haven’t seen it before and
there are no predudices. The community sees that the girls like doing it and no one
has stopped us yet. Skateboarding is also more fun than football or gymnastics.
The US-Americans didn’t really brought many good things to the afghan people, can
you feel now a bit of defense toward western people or western activities?
Skateboarding is a global sport. It is not a western sport anymore. We have contact
with skateboarders in Malaysia, an Islamic country, that have been skating for over
10 years. The world champ a few years back comes originally from Congo. There are
heaps of skaters from South America that rip. There are 13 million skateboarders
worldwide and they don’t all come from the US. Skateboarding is less than 50 years
old and evolved simultaneously in the US, Europe and Australia. I think it has shaken
off it’s American identity when you start to see skate videos from Uganda, Lebanon,
Malaysia and Dubai.
Did something like the skateboard actually exist in Afghanisatan or are you
something like pioniers now?
No there weren’t any kids skating in the streets when I got here. I have met some
Afghans that had skateboards here in the 80’s but they mostly skated in their homes.
Are you actually admired to bring such a piece of sports equipment to the afghan
Yes, most people here think it is a fantastic idea and are impressed by the fact that
we get females to do sport, especially in a public space. Afghans also admire the fact
that a foreigner is a volunteer in their country and is doing a project to put a smile on
Afghan kids faces. A lot of foreigners are here to make stacks of money from all the
development dollars or to further their careers and the local population know it.
Who is actually financing the whole thing? When I think of Afghanistan I think of
those cliches huge poppy fields and warlords, you don’t have anything to do with
that, do you?
We have nothing to do with heroin trafficking or warlords. We leave those sort of
people to the other foreign organisations to get involved with. We just are involved
with kids and other good people.
We rely on supporters to donate to the project. If you are living in Germany please go
down to your local Titus skateshop and donate your old skateboard. They are
collecting second hand skateboard equipment for us until the 30th of November.
Titus will then send over the equipment to us here in Kabul via DHL. We also have a
bank account in Germany where donations can be made. All details are on our
website http://skateistan.org. Check it out y’all.
Afghanistan is known as a very muslim country, are there girls taking part in your
project. How can I imagine that? Are they hidden behind huge burkas? Are there
Yes, half of the skateboarders are female and no they don’t wear burkas because it
would be very difficult to skate in. They don’t even wear head scarfs. This is possible
because they are between the ages of 4 and 12. We will bulid an indoor premises so
that females over 12 can learn to skate with female instructors. If you are a female
that skates, please consider coming over to Kabul and volunteering with Skateistan
for a month so we can also teach Afghan female teenagers.