Viet Nam News
By Thiên Hương
Skate boarding has been developing among Vietnamese youth in big cities, partly due to a group of young men from South Africa that has been active in motivating the trend.
On an afternoon at Creative City, No 1 Lương Yên Street, a hub of arts and entertainment for young people in the middle of busy Hà Nội, you may find them losing themselves on boards, skating up and down high steps in the yard. They move skillfully like circus artists with the boards that seem to stick to their feet by invisible glue. Skating at high speed they easily avoid colliding with one another by jumping high then gently pressing down on the flying board to continue sliding.
Most of them are in their early 20s and they gather children as eager trainees.
“Coming to Việt Nam is interesting for many tourists,” said Rayne Moses, who just came to Viêt Nam a few months ago. “Skating here is also exciting as people here have been skating for years, so we are on the same level. I see many Asian skaters focus much on techniques. I think I can learn from them.”
Sharing the same view on the level of techniques, Bùi Minh Anh, a frequent skater at the yard, added: “This makes skating more fun. We share a lot of things with one another. It’s awesome to be friends with them. It can also improve our language ability.”
Moses’ friend, Andrew van der Linden, has been skating for two years here and his experiences lured Andrew to come, too.
“It’s so nice to have a feeling that being here is like being in the same family,” Linden said, “They have helped me a lot in working and daily life here while I’m away from home, away from family.”
Linh Đỗ, a frequent skater at the yard, is considered as one of the pioneers in the sport in Việt Nam since the early days.
“I simply loved to see this art in films when I was small,” he said. “I started to practise skating in 2004 when I get to junior high school. The sport boomed here between 2004 and 2007. Many people flocked to skating venues.
“Then the biggest skateboard supplier in Hà Nội changed his business, so the fever paused for a while. Since 2010, we have been hosting many events, making videos to post online to promote skateboarding. More people have joined the sport again.”
Since then, Hà Nội Creative City has been hosting various events and contests .
“Our best memory is organising a contest last October,” said Linden, “We got to the site early and it started raining. We did not have enough budget to buy an umbrella to cover the whole yard. A friend came to ask me why I looked so stressed. And he said: ‘Ok, wait a second’. Then he returned with half of the sum to buy an umbrella, donated by other skaters.
Linden often practises at places with a concrete surface. One of his favourite venues is a big area under Nhật Tân Bridge.
“This surface is very much like what we had in South Africa,” he said. “It’s quite hard and requires good health to maintain balance.”
Lý Thái Tổ Park in downtown Hà Nội is another potential venue for skaters.
“Marble is very a very special surface for sliding,” he said, “It helps us slide smoothly and prevents falling down, and of course reduces injuries.”
Kyle Porter is another South African. He has his own way of enjoying skate boarding.
With his experience in mass media in South Africa, he has laid the foundation for a project in Việt Nam, opening a Facebook page for skateboarding communities throughout the country.
“My purpose is establishing a network connecting skaters in Việt Nam to help them exchange and help promote skating in Việt Nam to the world," he said.
For many, Đà Nẵng is an ideal skate boarding city.
“Everything is skateable. Việt Nam is a tourist destination. So skaters all over the world will come here for holiday and contact Vietnamese skaters,” he said.
Porter has set up close relations with local skaters, joined their events, taken photos and published them on the Facebook page.
Kỳ Như Hậu, a local skate boarder commented on Porter’s project: “I think these efforts are important because they help promote tourism through skate boarding. They make more people know about the sport and in some way … reduce social evils.”
The group has also run regular training classes for local youth in Hà Nội.
“We really like to raise stars with our passion of skate boarding,” said Moses. “The children can learn so much from keeping balance, controlling, falling down and standing up again…It’s very much the same thing like when you want to achieve something by yourself in life, you must strive hard and if you fall down, stand up and keep going.”
“We teach children to follow their dreams, which require lots of sweat and even blood,” Linden added.
Ngô Thu Hà, a trainee, admitted that the sport gave her joys and brought her new friends.
“The trainers are so enthusiastic and we all like to conquer the boards,” she said. — VNS