Skateboarding towards glory
Nafi Ahmed intends to integrate skateboarding, a unique sport, into the lives of Bangladeshi youths. In line with that thought, he founded the group, Sk8 Platoon, with his peers, Arfi Shahid and Shaquat Hossain, in October 2020.
Currently, the group has 75 members, who usually skateboard around the streets of Dhanmondi.
Nafi was introduced to skateboarding by his friend Eftid Mahdin in March 2019. "We saved money and bought our first four wheels from the DOB Skateshop, which is the first skateboard shop in Bangladesh," he says. "Since then, this sport has been an integral part of our everyday lives."
"We skateboarded on our own for three months before joining Number 32 Skateboarding Group. "Unfortunately, the group broke up a couple of months later due to internal issues," adds Nafi.
Soon after, a skateboarding group by the Nepal- based NGO Yuwa For Change, came to Bangladesh for a world tour. "That group inspired us even more," recalls Nafi. "We also have a Facebook group, Bangladesh Skateboarders Community, which serves as a hub for over 5.9 thousand skateboarders around the nation."
During their time in the Number 32 Skateboarding group, Nafi and his friends had the opportunity to help Bas Ackermann, a renowned filmmaker from the Netherlands, on a documentary film portraying Bangladeshi culture.
"We do not know if the documentary was released. However, Bas Ackermann is friends with the celebrated skateboarder Kenny Reed," shares Nafi. "With the filmmaker's recommendation, Kenny Reed invited us to attend the 2020 Summer Olympic Games qualifiers in Singapore."
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games, which included skateboarding for the first time, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was later held in Japan, in July 2021. "When the first lockdown began in Bangladesh in March 2020, our skateboarding group was scattered," adds Nafi.
"Skateboarding is empowering for me", smiles Muskan Azad, a member of Sk8 Platoon. "I aspire to take this sport to a national level, and set an example for other girls." Similarly, Nahian Hossain Kashfia, another member of the group, shared that skateboarding gives her a sense of freedom.
Sk8 Platoon members dominated the top three positions in both Skate Contest 2020 organised by DOB Skateshop and the Bangabandhu 9th Bangladesh Games 2020, organised by Bangladesh Roller Skating Federation (BRSF).
"We also teach children at an NGO called Bangladesh Street Kids Aid (BSKA)," reveals Nafi. "The founder of BSKA, Susie Halsell, built the first skate park in Bangladesh, the Royal Bengal Skate Park, in Gazipur."
Susie Halsell, along with members of DOB Skateshop and BRSF, met with the Dhaka North City Corporation mayor and acquired land for a skateboarding park in Gulshan. "We aspire to participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics. A skateboarding park would greatly help our training," concludes Nafi.
The author is a freelance journalist.