Kicking it for Africa
This is Douglas. He is from Uganda, East Africa and he has achieved something very remarkable out of very little. Douglas qualified and participated in the Street World Championship in Rome, Italy this year. Whilst he did not qualify for the Olympics, the fact that he made it to this point is pretty amazing. He was the only representative from East Africa too. Have a look at the map. It is BIG.
Unfortunately for Douglas, he does not take it as an achievement. Despite being able to compete with the best and ranked 100th, he felt he could have done much better if he had the right training ground, gear and financial support through sponsorships. He has none of that.
That does not mean Douglas did not enjoy the experience. Skating with the world’s best skaters meant a lot to him as he was able to learn from them. One pro skater stood out for him. Chis Joslin. Why Chris? ‘Because he simplifies for me his tricks and makes it look easy to do. I want to ask him how much time he puts into skateboarding, how he does his tricks and who inspires him’.
‘With years, the skaters started to be confident on the boards and we started to explore the streets of Kampala throught the prism of skateboarding looking for new spots.’ – Yann Gross
‘I got qualified through an online live stream platform by judges from world skateboard. According to the judges I was ranked 57th. No one else qualified apart from me.’
I was wondering how he got qualified for qualified for Street League Rome to start with? ‘I got qualified through an online live stream platform by judges from world skateboard. According to the judges I was ranked 57th. No one else qualified apart from me’.
Thanks to Youtube and his idol Tony Hawk, Douglas started skating in 2005. He co founded an organization called Uganda Skateboard Union (USU) and two years later with the help from North American skatepark designer Brian Lye, they were able to build their first skatepark in Kitintale. It is also thanks to Brian, that the Tony Hawk Foundation supported them for a couple of years with small donations.
Nowadays the Uganda depends on donations to keep rolling. One of the founders of USU (Mubiru Jack) manages the boards and hands them out to the local skate community. Quite successfully so that Skateaid helped to complete the extension of the park in Kitintale. Also thanks to Skateaid a bowl was inaugruated next to skatepark in June 2021. There is also another skatepark in Mukono which was built by dissident members of the USU. They call themselves Uganda Skateboard Society.
‘Because he simplifies for me his tricks and
makes it look easy to do. I want to ask him how
much time he puts into skateboarding, how he
does his tricks and who inspires him.’
The skate community in Uganda was also instrumental in realizing skatepark projects in other East African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. For other countries that want to follow the same footsteps as Uganda, Douglas’ recommendation is to allocate land for the park to start with, getting organized and create awareness within the community, the local council and the government.
At the end of our conversation, I wanted to know from him on what has changed for him since Street League? ‘I have learnt a lot and am doing lots of practice, because it was a huge challenge’. What do you want to do next? ‘To practice twice HARDER with a support of sponsorship’.