Girls Skate South Africa skatepark

Image: Supplied

Skater girls get ready to shred at new skatepark in Randburg

Girls Skate South Africa is building a new skateboarding park in Johannesburg – and it’s designed for women.

Girls Skate South Africa skatepark

Image: Supplied

Girls Skate South Africa founder and executive director Sharne Jacobs is overseeing the construction of a new skatepark in Randburg.

Jacobs founded the community organisation to create safe skating environments where women can enjoy accessible and fearless skateboarding experiences. Girls Skate South Africa also teaches women to skate.

Ride over your fear

“Our purpose is to assist in reducing the fear that many women experience when trying to skateboard,” said Jacobs.

“We aim to make skateboarding more accessible,” she said, both for those who typically could not afford it or did not stay close enough to a safe skate park.

As in many other sports, men dominate skateboarding and Jacobs is proud to be pushing against this.

She got the idea for the organisation thanks to the courage she felt whilst skating with female skaters. She then wanted to recreate this feeling for other women.

“I remembered how scared I was to skate around males, while at the same time remembering how courageous I felt when there were other women to skate with. So I thought, surely I can re-create that feeling for others.”

The new Randburg skatepark

In the new skatepark, Jacobs wants to create another safe environment. The organisation already has other venues in Pretoria, Soweto, Durban and Cape Town.

“This will be a safe space for all women,” she said. “It can be used for lessons without the intimidation factor and without the danger of public parks.

“Having a private location will allow so many women to progress to levels that they normally wouldn’t be able to.”

What the skatepark still needs

The COVID-19 pandemic has however slowed down construction.

“We have had to rely solely on funding this out of our own pockets,” according to Jacobs.

“We were really hoping to have support from various communities; however, the pandemic has affected the spending potential of many.

“So we are unfortunately reliant on the spare cash that we manage to generate on a monthly basis.”

Girls Skate South Africa is calling on members of the community to get involved to contribute building materials for the skatepark.

“It would be a huge help if you could donate any building materials,” says Jacobs. “Just one bag of cement really goes a long way towards building the obstacles.”

Inclusivity in skateboarding

The organisation, Jacobs said, also caters to marginalised members of the community through their sessions or people who simply want to exercise.

“We do cater for those who usually do not enjoy the same freedom at the skatepark. This means any persons that feel marginalised and fear that they do not have the courage to begin skateboarding.

“Or even if you would like to exercise at a place that does not discriminate, please get in touch as we will host special open sessions on select days.”

In her mission to get more women involved in skateboarding, Jacobs has learnt that women are stronger when they stand together and that nothing is impossible.

“Women do not need to be more aggressive in order to compete at the skatepark.

“We do not need to earn our place. We are stronger together; we just need to learn that.”

Jacobs added: “I have learnt that there are very few limits when I open my mind to new possibilities”.

Social responsibility

“We host workshops to assist those that have been abused or those that have come from less-than-ideal homes or neighbourhoods,” Jacobs said.

“We believe that we can create a positive community which provides a good foundation for entering the world with a healed mentality.”