We Are A Thriving Skateboard Community At The Heart Of Jersey

In 2021, recognising a growing demand, three friends who recognised the societal value of skateboarding joined forces and began working on how to deliver coaching sessions and promote the positives we’d all seen in skateboarding. An early version of Skateboard Jersey began to take shape, the founding fathers (sharing over 60 years of skateboarding between them) being Karl Payne, of Consume Skateshop, Gatis Valters, multimedia producer and qualified coach, and Phil Minty, long term skateboarder and qualified coach, all deep believers in the benefits of skateboarding, to include the culture which has been surrounding it and maturing throughout our lifetimes.

Since original conception, Skateboard Jersey has evolved – we’ve continued working closely with Jersey Sport, registered as a NPO, appointed four volunteer officers and developed links with Jersey Youth Service, moulded the original plans and ideas and now we are readier than ever! The strapline we’ve settled on is “Coaching, Events & Support”.

Back in 2018, as part of this particular campaign, Jersey Sport offered the opportunity to become qualified skateboarding coaches to members of the Jersey Skateparks Association (JSA); a mixed crowd of skatepark users with the mission to provide more and better skatepark facilities for BMX, rollerbladers, and scooters, as well as skateboarders. 11 of us achieved that qualification – Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Lessons – which added strength to the campaign, in that we had people ready and trained to coach, but we needed at least one worthy skatepark in which to develop and support skateboarding in Jersey. At that time, all skateboarding coaches were volunteering as part of the JSA. Skateboard Jersey differentiates itself from the JSA in that we are focused on developing the sport of skateboarding, however, it goes without saying that we are actively supportive of the JSA in providing more places to skate!

Our committee of volunteer officers consists of Sophie Kilpatrick as Secretary, Simon Pingree as Welfare Officer (also a qualified Coach), Ricardo Veras as Treasurer and Phil Minty as Chairperson. Since this is all new to Jersey – and all of us – we’re remaining open as to how and what we can provide in line with the Mission Statement. We also have a wing of like-minded volunteers happy to provide help and support, many of whom have shown enthusiasm for becoming qualified coaches themselves.

We are positioning Skateboard Jersey as the governing body of skateboarding in Jersey, developing and supporting any individual, group or club to achieve their highest potential, whilst promoting a safe, fun environment in which any rider can participate. This wraps up the ‘Coaching & Support’ parts of the strapline quite neatly. We simply aim to give anybody the opportunity to benefit from skateboarding. We intend on doing this via several avenues; such as providing school holiday skate camps, PE lessons for schools, individual and group coaching, supervised sessions and holding events. We have also been in touch with minority groups (Eyecan, Multilingual Young People), and will be utilising the shared experience of skateboarding to increase connections between people who may feel excluded. We’re affiliating ourselves with Skateboard GB, who have kindly offered us their support and experience as we grow through stages they’ve usually seen before, so can therefore advise us on, including enabling and supporting the most talented and driven riders to achieve their fullest potential by assisting their journey along the ‘progression pathways’ through competitive channels.

We strongly believe that skateboarding is unique as a sport, in that it is a gateway to creative outlets. A common route which we’ve seen played out time and time again is that the exciting nature of skateboarding attracts the attention, invariably leading to ‘having a go’. For many, this becomes the beginning of a lifelong passion in mastering the board control to perform exciting manoeuvres. For many others, it doesn’t. However, for those who aren’t so keen on riding a board themselves, one  (or more) of a multitude of creative channels tends to open up. I’d be very surprised if you could find a skateboarder over 20 who couldn’t name at least one person who had – via skateboarding – been introduced to, and taken off in, a seemingly unrelated direction, such as photography, publishing, videography, film editing and production, art/design, architecture, music production… the list is endless, and growing all the time as technologies evolve. Skateboard Jersey is here for those who are keen to have a go – and see where it can take you!

In terms of the ‘Events’ part of our strapline, and as part of our work with SkateboardGB, we’ve been discussing the possibility of holding competitive events at the Les Quennevais skatepark. At full potential, this could become a major date in the annual calendar of British skatepark events, attracting riders from as wide as the prize money stretches, as well as their respective support bases! SkateboardGB has helped Skateboard Jersey realise the potential and promote the positives that Jersey stands to benefit from with the high-spec facility at Les Quennevais. There has also been the ideation of an event in Jersey to be held as part of British Olympic qualifiers – we can all look forward to seeing that one!

As a Non Profit Organisation, we’ll be seeking funding in line with the Mission Statement, and have already secured generous donation from Oak Finance, who have kindly supplied us with 5 sets of pads and 5 skateboards, which enables us to carry out our mission in enabling those with no equipment of their own to have a go. Thank you, Oak Finance!

We’ve also secured a grant from ConnectMe, which enables us to fund the training for 10 more coaches and renew the subscriptions for the existing active coaches.

A perception of skateboarding that we’d really love to dispel is that it’s for young people. Of course, younger people are the larger demographic, and they don’t tend to break so easily (!), but we’re already hearing remarks along the lines of “Aw, I’m too old for that now!”. We’re of the stance that nobody is too old to begin, or to try again, and there is strong evidence to show that skateboarding enhances one of the overlooked senses that dissipates as part of the natural ageing process – balance. By skateboarding, you would be using and keeping a hold of that invaluable sense for longer; thereby delaying the onset of the doddering that commonly affects confidence and mobility later in life. We don’t recommend you jump on a board and go for the moves you were trying when you were younger though – the importance of stretching to warm up and refreshing the most basic skills cannot be overlooked!

We’d like to thank our volunteers and all those in the organisations that have helped us in our journey so far; Jersey Skateparks Association, Jersey Sport, Jersey Youth Service, ConnectMe, OAK Finance, SkateboardGB, and of course, we’d like to thank and congratulate the Government of Jersey for providing the space, time and funding to create an incredibly high quality facility that generations of skatepark fans have been wanting for decades – we’re 100% confident that they have got it right this time 😉

With so much potential and possibility ahead of us, everybody linked to and representing Skateboard Jersey are looking forward to playing an exciting part in a very exciting future for Jersey!

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