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Skate Movie Review: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you're a Girl)

By Valentina Diaz

V. Diaz, a journalist and passionate skateboarder, is a full-time writer for SHIT®️ Magazine.


Skateboarding is a global language, over the years it has reached unimaginable places. It has allowed new generations, cultures, and traditions to resignify the environment in which they find themselves and to see in the skateboard a place to excel and express themselves with the freedom of atheletes.

Although it is true that the Afghan culture has been exposed to an insurmountable war, the most affected have been it's population, who without opportunity and in extreme poverty have had to get ahead as a society and coexist in a war of several decades and with a balance sheet showing more than 32,000 civilians dead and more than 60,000 injured to date, as highlighted by BBC News World in a report.

"Most women are never taught to read. Girls are often forced into early marriage. For many, violence is a threat inside and outside the home”. With this phrase, Dysinger begins the documentary that shows the opportunity offered to a group of girls in Kabul, so that they can have access to public education as well as using skateboarding as an incentive for teaching and improvement.


Skateistan, a Space to Learn and Teach

Taking to the streets in Afghanistan is without a doubt exposing anyone to danger, especially girls. However, if we look back and remember those life stories and uncomfortable situations that the mothers of the protagonists of this story had to go through, the benefit they may have had with the Skateistan Foundation would not have been possible many years ago and for the mothers of these girls, it has been important for their daughters to have what they have long lacked.

From reading, learning to write, math, and other subjects, to leaving the classroom, going to a cellar, taking off her sandals, putting on slippers and the necessary protection, taking a skateboard and following the lessons of her instructor. “We teach children from poor places and streets who did not start school before. It's safe here for girls to learn. And we teach them skateboarding ”, says one of the girls who run this project called Skateistan.

The lessons begin with an exercise to learn to climb the skateboard, "Five Foot Positions", "Tik Tak", descend, not be afraid to fall, and more. The documentary not only focuses on showing the foundation's sports teaching process, but it also focuses on each girl's lifestyle and the story they have to tell, with responses that refer to the work of a growing girl. In this society.

"I love sports and I like to work with children", expresses the Skateistan organization who gladly told her story and that of his school, without showing his face in the film. There she tells that these girls have problems at home, such as not having a father or that one of their parents has a disability. In addition to not having financial resources, many of them come from very conservative homes, with closed and very strict minds and rules. As a consequence, girls do not grow up with courage, strength, or autonomy within these homes.






They Fight

When they have the opportunity to learn is when they demonstrate their fight to be free. Reihana, is one of the girls of this school, in her interview she says that she is from a family of 11 brothers and sisters, there the team asks her why her sisters are not in Skateistan, to which she replies that her sisters are not allowed: “Because where I live, it's a tradition that when a girl grows up, she doesn't go outside. If a girl goes out, everyone says 'oh, my god, that girl went out'. Girls older than me, don't go outside ”It is worth mentioning that her sisters at the time of this documentary were eighteen, sixteen and thirteen.

"I don't want to grow up, so I can skate Forever", says Reihana and with her words and her expression, the feeling found by the practice of skateboarding was brought to light, which allowed her to feel something completely different from what she lives day by day in a war zone.

With documented moments of going out on the streets in a group, it was inevitable that other boys would feel and perceive the presence of these girls who have been able to go out into the streets to learn, knowing that soon when they grow up, this possibility will be taken from their lives.

Several of the mothers of these girls were in a position to tell their story in front of the cameras of this documentary, and all agreed on the same story, the war, the lack of opportunities, and the decision. "We're illiterate, and don't know anything, they should be better".

This film greatly expresses the capacities and possibilities that every human being on earth has to be an agent of change, as well as in Afghanistan, the process of adaptation of a woman in society has been a controversial subject for centuries, as this She has had to fight to be respected, for her autonomy, determined that opportunities must be on equal terms at all times and in all places.

The beliefs and ideologies that are lived in a country like this are completely unfair to girls and with spaces like Skateistan, a door opens to prove that possibilities to grow arise with freedom and happiness. The emotions expressed on the faces of these girls provides an encouraging light to continue the work that allows more girls to ride a skateboard.



Read also: Skate Movie Review: We Are Blood

Read also: Skate Movie Review: Bones Brigade, An Autobiography


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