Benita Adesuyan joins a training camp at Rage Indoor Skate Park to see if she can roll with the cool kids.
‘You just need to bend your knees more,’ says ten-year-old Bianca as she glides up and down the ramp on her skateboard. Bianca is the only girl at the Rage Indoor Skate Park on the day we visit, and she’s clearly an impressive student.
Stationed inside the Rage Indoor Skate Park at Dubai Sports World, the park has been running camps for skaters young and old. To get beginners rolling, Rage has flown in professional skateboarder Mack McKelton, 28, from Germany.
‘Rage asked me to do the camp, they said they had no idea how many people would come and were willing to give it a try. Giving lessons is exhausting because I try to give it my all, so I really focus on the students. I’m just trying to motivate them – I’ve had a lot of luck, I never knew skateboarding would take me this far so I want to give back to the sport.’
McKelton’s love for skating was fostered when his family moved from South Africa to Germany. He swapped surfing for skateboarding and was immediately taken with the convenience of the sport and has travelled the world showcasing his talents. ‘With skateboarding you can just leave your house and it starts, you don’t have to wait for a wave or buy a fancy jacket and expensive equipment, as long as you have a
pair of shoes and can buy a board you can go anywhere you like. It’s a great way to see the world – you travel for free, you don’t have to buy gas.’
McKelton also has his own brand called OVER (Original Version Earns Respect), which upcycles old skateboards into new design items. He is also a passionate ambassador for the sport. ‘For me the skateboard is a celebration of motion,’ he says. ‘A lot of people forget that a skateboard is also a form of transport, it gets you from A to B quickly.’
McKelton and his young protégés on the ramp make the sport look easy, but most of all a lot of fun. The younger kids are sitting on the boards and shuttling across the park, up and down the ramps, while some of the older kids work on their tricks and techniques. Stepping up to the board to try to skate down a ramp that the kids have been making quick work of, we realise it’s certainly not child’s play. ‘People are worried about injuries,’ says McKelton. ‘They’re afraid of falling. Society tells us that the ground is dirty and is no place for grown-ups to be – I think that if you want to stay down to earth and grounded then you need to accept the floor and be open to it. You are going to fall. It’s like missing a hole in golf – It happens all the time.’
McKelton has suffered only a couple of injuries during his career. ‘I’ve only had a broken toe and a bone in my wrist in 17 years of skateboarding. I think you’re far more at risk getting in a car on the streets of Dubai than you are skating.’
All the kids at the camp and their tutor wear pads and helmets, and the park has seen adults come and try out sessions too. ‘The oldest we had is 42, which is very young still. I had a guy in Berlin who was 70 years old and we took it very slow but he was riding and he was stoked – the way his eyes lit up was amazing.’
Jenell Weber, one of the mums at the camp, has seen a difference in her 12-year-old son’s approach to skateboarding. ‘He spends hours here every day – except Saturday. I’ve noticed he has got more confidence on the board and he’s into challenging himself and trying new tricks.’
Bianca’s mum, Afi Barzin, used to be a skater girl herself and is happy that her daughter has picked it up. ‘I encouraged her and she wanted to learn, instead of being inside and being stuck behind the computer.’
McKelton’s skateboard sessions may have started a spark among the youngsters, and the indoor skate park will remain at Dubai Sports World until August 31, giving experienced skaters and new kids on the ramps a place to skate safely.
Rage Indoor Skate Park, Dubai Sports World, Downtown Dubai. Until August 31. www.rage-shop.com.
Where to skate in the city
Tashkeel’s skate park
This UAE skate park combines art with sport and the ramps are based on Arabic calligraphy.
Free. Sat-Thu 8am-10pm. Nad Al Sheba 1.
Located inside The Dubai Mall, this skate shop has an indoor bowl where skateboarders can try out flips and ollies, as well as take lessons.
From Dhs80 for lessons. Daily 3pm-8pm. Rage Shop, The Dubai Mall, www.rage-shop.com.