Wearing a baggy jacket over an oversized t-shirt, Joanne ‘Corey’ Lee looks completely at home in a skatepark. Under her magenta cap, her face doesn’t betray her age either — she’s 44 and a novice skater.
“I only started last year,” Corey says.
“One of my friends, whose daughter is learning skateboarding, randomly texted me and asked me to try skateboarding, and I said: ‘Ok, why not?’
“Back when I was young, there were stereotypes: That only boys skated, it wasn’t really a female sport. And parents didn’t like to see their kids skateboarding, they’d rather ask you to go study.”
“I’m the one who got her into trouble,” says her friend Eric Ng, 47. A former skater as a teen, he recently picked it back up when his daughter Lyla showed an interest in it.
He told Corey, “If my daughter can do it and I can get back into it, why not you?”
The three of them skate at Por Vida Skateboarding which is set to open Singapore’s biggest and only fully-indoor skatepark on Oct 1 at GR.iD Singapore. Lyla, only 9, is a young star, showing off her skills on the quarter-pipe with ease.
The founder of Por Vida Skateboarding, Pham Tan opened the indoor facility due to the lack of spaces for skaters to go when it’s raining — a very common occurrence in Singapore. He has had to take shelter in and skate in places like indoor carparks, which saw him get chased away by security.
Back when Pham first began skateboarding 23 years ago, he admits it was seen as a “hooligan or delinquent’s sport”, a notion he loves to dispel. He says, “Over the past years, it’s been included in the Olympics, and both international and local schools now have it as a co-curricular activity.”
Taking feedback from parents and his fellow coaches, he invested a “five-figure sum” into decking out the 6,708 sq ft space with an impressive set of obstacles, including a mini-ramp, a wave ramp, flat bar and rails, as well as quarter-pipes.
Despite skateboarding being considered an extreme sport (it was part of the X Games before finally being included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after all), to Corey, the sport is therapeutic.
“It’s not just yoga that’s therapeutic,” she tells AsiaOne. Working in sales by day, she skates to destress after a hard day of work: “It helps with my mental wellness as well as my body; it’s a sport so you can sweat it out.”
Of course, Corey is also in it for the thrill of the sport.
PHOTO: Por Vida Skateboarding
“There’s also the adrenaline when you go down a ramp: It’s scary but I like that feeling,” she says. “Every time there’s an obstacle and I overcome it, there’s a feeling of satisfaction that’s quite indescribable.”
Corey isn’t the only older learner at the skatepark. Pham, 37, who has been a trainer for a decade, tells us the youngest student he teaches is five and the oldest he has ever taught was 61.
“Skateboarding knows no boundaries,” Pham adds. “You can do it any time you want, and you don’t need a partner — It’s just you and your skateboard. You can do it anywhere you want to, be it a multi-storey carpark, under your void deck or a park.
He says, “There’s no age limit to when you can start. Whenever you chance upon it and get intrigued by it, you can give it a try.”
Corey agrees: “Age is just a number. Skateboarding brings a kind of satisfaction you probably won’t get in your entire life or your career.”
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.