In 2007, traveling skateboarders Oliver Percovich and Sharna Nolan arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul armed with little more than two boards. An abandoned Russian fountain became their arena, and in a nation where kids comprise over half the population, they soon found that their skating antics had a magnetic effect. First a group of local boys joined the fun and soon girls were shredding as well.
These initially random skateboarding stints would one day evolve into Afganistan’s first co-educational skateboard school, Skateistan, which opened on October 29, 2009.
The documentary of Skateistan’s founding charts the gender, social and racial obstacles that pioneers Percovich and Nolan experienced in the face of their action sport project. Skateistan only came to be with the backing of the German, Canadian, Danish and Norwegian governments.
“In the end,” the organizers say, “we show the kids of Kabul skating this amazing new park with the international pros, witnessing the incredible joy and hope that can be generated with the help of four wheels and a board.”
The Kabul kids who roll up at the park need courage to venture outside onto the war-torn streets, but Skateistan continues. Its budding history is also documented in a new book, now available in the U.S.