If you’ve grown up on a steady diet of American TV shows and cartoons, you would find skateboarding an integral part of their culture. From dedicated skateparks to doing some cool stunts, it’s been a strong part of pop culture, even if it wasn’t well recognised in Singapore. Well, that’s until now.
The popularity of skateboards has surely grown on the island in recent years. And received a big boost in global recognition this year when it was inducted in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 as a sport.
Ask the Tony Hawk fans out there would tell you why he is a God amongst the skateboard mortals. And you are increasingly finding skateboard enthusiasts in Singapore.
Skateboarding In Singapore: A Way Of Life For Ree
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In fact, for skateboard athletes like Khairul Azree, the sport is now a way of life. Better known as Ree to his peers and the skateboarding fraternity, Azree is a Sport Leader Coach and Oxelo Product Experts (South East Asia) at Decathlon.
The youngster has over 15-20 years of skateboarding experience under his belt. He also travelled to China for a photoshoot to display his skills on the skateboard for Oxelo’s new range of products.
If you happen to catch any of Oxelo’s skateboarding products anywhere in the world, odds are you will see Ree on their marketing material.
When he’s not flipping the board in a skateboard park, Ree provides advice on skateboarding product choice and layout for Decathlon stores across Southeast Asia.
Skateboarding In Singapore: Are You Ready?
So, who better than Ree to answer that big question, is Singapore ready for skateboarding?
“We do have young learners coming in with a keen interest in the sport,” says Ree. “Our kids’ skateboarding classes (supported by Por Vida Skateboarding with coaches certified by SportSG) kicked off in November/December 2020, with the aim of improving kids’ psychomotor skills and development.”
Since then till early this year, the total participation number has been at 100+. So we definitely saw more and more kids coming in and keen to take up the sport and to join our classes,” adds Ree.
Between 2019 and 2020, Decathlon says it registered a 29.84 per cent year-on-year increase in sales for skateboarding products.
In fact, the company added skateboarding to this year’s Decathlon Sports Festival 2021. The 5-Landmark Wheeled Sport Challenge was one of the ten challenges available at this nationwide virtual sports carnival organised in collaboration with Sport Singapore.
However, skateboarding classes had to be stopped in April 2021 due to the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions in place.
Nevertheless, Ree hopes that the sport will gain recognition thanks to the push brought upon by the Olympics this year.
Convincing Parents About Skateboarding In Singapore
Image Source: Decathlon
While it’s one thing for kids to be interested in the sport, it’s another to convince parents that their child won’t fall and hurt himself on the wheeled board. It can also be a task for the parent where they want to expose their child to the relatively new sport on the island.
Ree says, “I think a better way for a parent to encourage their kids to take up this sport is to perhaps expose them to the sport and to educate them on the topic.”
He adds, “They can start by showing their kids the skateboarding tournaments videos that are currently happening at the Tokyo Olympics would be a great and fun way to start!”
“I did notice children being inspired to see kids that are around their age 13-16 years competing in the Olympics and even winning the gold title. The representation might be something for them to relate to and maybe drive them to try out the sport for themselves,” he says.
Staying Active In Times Of The Pandemic
With the heightened measures are in place, Ree recommends kids stay active while adhering to government rules. Some of his tips to stay active during the lockdown include:
- Take a Walk – A simple and easy walk around your block is a good start.
- Involve the whole family in the fitness fun – Invite your family members to participate in an activity or fun sport! For example, badminton, beach volleyball, or basketball are some fun family and friendly sports to start off with.
- Stay hydrated when you exercise – Drinking water and taking care of your body is an important part of keeping healthy and staying active.
- Limit TV and screen time – Limit your time on the screen and set time out of your day to do an exercise.
- Enjoy the process – Playing a sport does not necessarily always mean that it is a competition. Some friendly fun every now and then is good to remind yourself to take it easy and not overexert yourself.
The Need To Stay Active
Image Source: Khairul Azree
With home-based learning and outdoor restrictions, a child’s ways to stay active have been restricted. This is particularly true for five and 10-year-old children, who are otherwise extremely active.
Ree says, “I do think it is vital for children of all ages to have outdoor play and stay active through fun sports, especially now, as we are going through this pandemic. It is important to keep fit and to try new sports no matter if it’s indoors or outdoors.”
“Exercise has proven to help boost children’s immune systems, build their confidence as well as to help reduce stress and anxiety – among many other benefits,” he adds.
Advice For Newbies
For those looking to take up skateboarding, Ree says, “I would recommend for a newbie to start off by coming into a Decathlon store. Our Sport Leaders & Advisors can provide some basic insights and information on which board you should purchase, to begin with, based on your practice and budget.”
Ree is one of those who practices what he preaches. His little girl is walking, or should we rather wheeling on her dad’s skateboard, and learning the sport.
Ree says, “I’ve brought my daughter out to our Singapore Lab skateboarding classes and skateboarding caught her eye immediately. As a parent, I prepared safety gear and showed her the step by step process of how to start skateboarding with our partner Por Vida Skateboarding.
While skateboarding in Singapore and related classes remain suspending due to the pandemic, they will start soon once things subside. Kids as little as 4.5 years can join and learn the sport.
“I would also say that by speaking to fellow skateboarders in the skatepark. You can also learn a lot from them as the beauty of skateboarding is also very much about learning from each other,” he signs off.
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