KOCHI: Skating is more than just a hobby for the children of Kovalam skate club that operates under Sebastian Indian Social Projects (SISP), Kovalam. Joshan J, Mini J, Rahul R, and Vidya Das, the four members of the club were recently in the news for winning gold medals at the 57th National Roller skating Championship held in Visakhapatnam during last month. Coached by Vineeth Vijayan, a skateboarding enthusiast, this was the team’s first tournament outside the state.
Like Vineeth, the 10 children who participated in the nationals are also from SISP, an NGO that provides free second-chance education to school dropouts. The children studying at the organisation are mainly from the fisherman communities in Pulluvila and Vizhinjam. “They are not interested in studies and like to roam around, play and do some fishing during their free time. They need some sort of entertainment to inspire them to come to school,” said Vineeth.
Introducing surfing to the children was one of the ways Vineeth managed to get their attention. But the only limitation of the sport was that it could not be practised during monsoon. So he came up with skateboarding, a sport in which a player rides on a small board with wheels (skateboard) to perform jaw-dropping tricks. Officially launched in 2014, the Kovalam skate club was the first in the state to have a mini skate ramp of its own. The construction of the ramp, which is located on the roof and near the entrance of the school, provided the children with a platform to display their skateboarding skills.
Presently, the skateboarding classes are conducted during weekends and almost 40 students participate in each class. ‘No school no skating’ is a rule that is strictly followed by the institution. “If kids attend the classes from Monday to Friday, they can participate in the free skateboarding classes during the weekend,” said Vineeth. Sujin B, one of the brightest talents produced by the club, had visited Europe in 2015 to learn about the skateboarding culture there. He was selected following his success at a skateboarding tournament held in Madhya Pradesh.
“The experience was rewarding and we had practised a lot for the competition. My aim is to become a pro in skateboarding”. says Joshan, one of the gold medalists and Class X student at SISP. Joshan credits his coach for developing his interest in the sport. The gold medal winners were selected to the national team based on their performance.