'People came from every continent': Ethiopia gets its first skate park – CNN

Thanks to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign by local collective Ethiopia Skate — which boasts more than 150 members — Addis Ababa recently built its first skate park, one that the organizers hope will train the next generation of X-Games champions.

“There are kids doing better stunts,” says Ethiopia Skate member Yared Aya. “They are not afraid and now hopefully we are getting the message out there: it will happen.”

The park and its partner Make Life Skate Life raised $35,000 and saw 60 volunteers across 20 countries fly in to help build the dream.

“It’s still hard to believe, people came in from every continent to help us build this skate park,” says Aya. “I think it shows the passion that people have for the sport.”

Prior to the park’s completion in April, local skaters risked their lives in a vacant parking lot in Sarbet, where taxi drivers, soccer players and street bullies competed for space.

Ethiopia Skate was co-founded by American photographer Sean Stromsoe and local skater Abenezer Temesgen. The passion embodied by the group, however, is spreading beyond the city walls. Ethiopian cities Bahir Dar and Awassa also have skate collectives, thanks in part to smooth roads which locals say are perfect for indy grabs.

“It’s something that nobody can understand, but when you are skating, you forget all your problems,” says Nathan Eyasu, who has been skating on Addis Ababa’s roads for six years.

“It’s like a drug.”

Social media has spread the word far and wide, making a rebellious subculture that started in America increasingly commonplace throughout the continent. Last year, Kenya held its first skateboarding competition at Shangilia Skatepark, Nairobi. Uganda got its first skate park, when local Jack Mubiru, known as the father of skateboarding in Uganda, built a half pipe in his native Kampala in 2006.

As for Ethiopia Skate, the group’s ambitions are simple: “Get good, get famous, get sponsors, build skate parks.”

“Africa has really grown and developed and I want to see it change even more in the future,” says Aya. “I want more kids to be involved in skate, because skate is a great thing. It can allow these kids to have more confidence in themselves,” says Aya.

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