GULFWEEKLY: Skateboarders from the kingdom will be rolling into Saudi Arabia this month to display their dizzying mid-air turns and twists in the SAESF Cup Skating Championships.
Zeyad Jirjawi, SkateSchool Bahrain founder, and coaches Ahmed Haji and Saif Abdulrahman, will be grinding the rails at a skate park across the causeway as they compete against other local and expatriate bold boarders.
“I’m very excited,” said Jirjawi a 29-year-old champion skateboarder who works in procurement. “The dates have not been finalised yet as they were rescheduled due to the pandemic but we are set to compete this month. I haven’t competed in a long time but I’m looking forward to it.”
Jirjawi has entered several competitions in the past such as the Kuwait FISE twice, in which he took first place and third.
He also took first in SOS (Skills of Skateboarding), which was organised by one of his coaches, Zahid Balooshi, and skateboarder Emad Sharakhat, 32, who is now a pilot. Jirjawi also took first in two competitions in Saudi Arabia.
He added: “I’m not just very excited to go with my boys but also that we will be representing Bahrain and we will do our best.
“We will all get a chance to do a run and we are expected to complete tour tricks with style, have good air time and speed, as well as do cool tricks using all the obstacles in the park to gain points – same as in the Olympics.”
The International Olympic Committee added skateboarding to its line-up of activities at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan with street skateboarding competitions set to be held on July 25 and 26, with the park skateboarding competitions following on August 4 and 5.
“I believe Bahrain skaters could deliver a really good team to represent our country in the Olympic as well,” said Jirjawi, “This is a great start for skateboarding as the sport was neglected for years because of its difficulty and risk.”
The sport, which took off in the 20th century as a recreational activity, evolved from just ‘cruising’ the streets on a small board mounted on four wheels to performing hair-raising tricks and aerial acrobatics at tournaments.
There are three types of skating – street, freestyle and vert. Street skateboarding focuses on flat ground tricks, grinds, slides and aerials within urban environments and public spaces. Vert is short for vertical and is the act of riding a skateboard on a skate ramp or other inclines with tricks and freestyle is technical flat ground skateboarding with music and choreography.
One things for sure, they all require stamina, balance, agility and lots of guts.
Coach Zahid, 33, co-founder of Beanboat speciality coffee, from Hoora, added: “Skateboarding is a sport which comes with a fair share of risk involved. You’re on a board that needs 100 per cent of your concentration or else you can slip and fall.
“Even a little pebble under the wheel can lead you to do a face plant if you aren’t careful! However, every time you fall, you learn to pick yourself up, until you land the trick you have been trying.
“This, for me, has been the ultimate life-lesson – no matter how many times we fail, we will succeed if we don’t give up.
“I think this helps strengthen the skater’s mind-set not just in skating but even in everyday life.”
Coach Zahid, who started skateboarding as a teenager, participated in past competitions as well such as EYT (Explode your Tricks) Bahrain in which he took second and Jirjawi clinched first.
Now, Jirjawi is passing on his tricks of the trade to a group of aspiring skaters, aged as young as six to 40 plus, with the support of his coach friends.
“I started the school in June, mid the corona situation, as I thought it was time we helped people get out of that negative state-of-mind by providing outdoor activities that will keep you mentally and physically fit,” he explained.
“Skateboarding forces you to live in the moment and that’s what people need these days, a sport that makes you focused.
“It takes a lot of time and practice, and it would be great to have a proper skate park with a variety of obstacles to practice on. At the moment, we don’t have a set venue but we meet up at different spots that are safe for people to practice in.
“I’m also proud to say that we also have more than 20 females enrolled in the programme.”
Although Bahrain’s boarders will not be entering this year’s Olympics, Jirjawi and his coaches including Abdulrahman, Ahmed and Waleed Haji and Zahid and Faheem Balooshi, are hoping to develop a skater squad for the future.
As for why they love it sport, coach Faheem, 27, a customer service officer, said: “Skateboarding really keeps you away from trouble by keeping you focused and driven. It also teaches you to be patient.”
Coach Zahid added: “The joy of landing a trick after bailing countless times is just hard to put in to words. It’s freedom!”
Coach Ahmed, 32, an analyst, who was recently nominated for the 2020 Asia Skateboarding Awards Creative Sole, added: “Skateboarding helps youngsters express themselves freely without any restrictions. It has helped many get out of their comfort zone and be more social.”
Meanwhile, Coach Abdulrahman, 24, an applied behavioural analyst therapist, said that his goal is to build a second family for people to skate and socialise with as it’s truly fun.
For details, follow @skateschoolbh on Instagram.