Who says skateboarding is only for boys?
Skateboarding used to be a sport dominated by males since they are deemed too dangerous and ‘boyish’ for the girls.
Malaysia’s biggest skateboarding festival recently held at Extreme Park, Shah Alam destigmatised that notion.
The participation of around 20 girls for the Girls Skate Competition was pretty intense and it is clear that all of them enjoyed the thrill and healthy competition the event brought.
Siti Nur Farah Wahida Mohd Hanafie, 22, said stigma against the female skaters is nothing unusual since she has heard people saying that the sport does not suit her and most simply assumed that she was scared to try because she is a girl.
Her response to that?
“Who cares about the stigma? I simply ignored them and kept going because skateboarding is what I love to do,” she told Sinar Daily.
She said she used to have more female friends who skated but later on stopped because there are not as many opportunities compared to the male.
She also shared that her mother always worries for her whenever she goes out to skate, but she understands her interest and reminds her to wear knee pads and always be mindful of her actions.
However, she said the skateboarding community is very encouraging for girls and everyone is super friendly to each other.
Farah highly recommended other girls to also try this sport and not be scared of falling down since that is normal for everyone.
“To me, skating is fun because I have my friends with me and it is a way for me to release stress.
“I would definitely recommend other girls out there to try because this is a sport for everyone and do not give up if you fall since that is normal especially when you first started. You will get used to it and it will be fun!,” she said.
Another participant, Nashmia Nor Izwan said no one has ever told her that skateboarding is a sport only boys can play, but people do tend to underestimate her because she is a girl.
The 10-year-old said she wanted more of her female friends to skate with her because it is not that scary and it is fun.
“I fell down a lot from skating but I have never given up because I wanted to try until I got it.
“I want more of my female friends to skate with me because it is fun,” she said.
When asked about the competition, she said she has always come to Extreme Park to skate but coming there to compete with others was a fun experience.
Meanwhile, Lovely Anne Paulene Painage, 21, is a participant who came from the Philippines because she wanted to experience the Grindbaru 8 festival herself.
“This is my first skateboarding festival and I think Grindbaru 8 is an awesome event.
“The park is very big and you started on time, which is something we don’t do in the Philippines so I find that very interesting,” she shared.
She shared that she started skateboarding when she was 18, and it was not a walk in the park. “It was very hard for me when I first started and the difficult part is how to ride on the skateboard.
“Because if you lose balance, it is likely that you will hit your elbows and that hurts, trust me,” she said.
That does not stop her, especially when she gained her mother’s approval after countless times of sneaking out to skateboard.
She said she used to skateboard without her mother’s knowledge because like all mothers, she wanted her to focus on her studies and joined a sport which is more feminine.
With her scholarship in hand, however, she managed to prove to her mother that her passion does not distract her from her studies and all is good after that.
As a female skateboarder, she admitted that some of the male skaters who are good at it have implied to her that girls will never be as good as them.
Nonetheless, she said it is good that she can see how that never affected the girls she has known through skateboarding although they are aware that the opportunities for them in the sport is not as promising compared to the male skateboarders.
“In the Philippines, the opportunity for girls to participate in competitions is almost zero but from the competition today, I can see a lot of girls participating which is good too,” she said.
She also said that it makes her feel happy that she got to make new friends through skateboarding and she is glad to have more friends with the same interest.
She encouraged other girls out there to try skateboarding because it gives them an opportunity to discover themselves and is also a great way to destress.
“I would recommend other girls to try this sport because you can be your own self and really see yourself. “When you figure out that there are some tricks you cannot do, it really motivates you to believe in yourself and keep trying.
“It is also a great stress reliever because for me whenever I feel sad, I just skate and it makes me feel better,” she added.
Following the Girls Skate Competition, there were also other activities such as Skate Race (male and female category), Surf the Concrete and Cash 4 Tricks.
The full day event was also packed with around 20 booths from Arco Skateshop, HausBoom, Uncle Bob and Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam), among others.
The Kolam Api session held that day garnered attention from the visitors since the competition requires participants to skate in around on area lit by fire, until the last man wins.
The intense competition where participants are also allowed to shove and pull their competitors until they lose their balance on the skateboard, packed a certain thrill and excitement for those watching.