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Olympic inclusion could bring big local boost


bowl jam mitch collins photog copy-672It has been a huge year for skateboarding with the announcement of its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is calling it an innovative move for the games to recognise the global shift of popularity from team sports to lifestyle and recreational sports. Along with sport surfing, skateboarding will be a highlight feature of the 2020 games in which two types of skateboarding (Street and Park) will feature. Street skateboarding is a representation of features you would find in the streets where Park is a mix of transition ramps creating a flowing environment. 

This provides skateboarding the very real opportunity to be rid of those age old misconceptions and to having the opportunity to place itself in amongst the world’s most traditional and globally recognised sports. 

Skateboarding has always has its own self-sufficient eco-system and multi-million dollar global industry which has primarily been led by the country of skateboarding’s humble beginnings in California, growing into a global phenomenon in the late 90s and now a professional sport internationally. 

If you were to ask me my opinion on the Olympics and how that affects us in little old New Zealand, I would tell you that it presents us with the exciting opportunity to get recognition and support from our government, national sports bodies and wider community while giving us the chance to grow and develop as a sport within New Zealand. 

When talking about local communities getting behind skateboarding and showing their support, the Mangawhai community would have to be a leader in this area. With the Mangawhai Activity Zone (MAZ) they have created a world-class skateboarding facility, which has seen some of the best skateboarders in the world visit the area just to skate the bowl. 

Driven by parents and community members, the MAZ trust has been able to complete 50 percent of the skatepark area, which has already made a huge impact on the NZ skateboarding scene. The annual Mangawhai Bowl Jam, hosted at the park every Waitangi Weekend, has pulled together the best skateboarders from across the country and is now attracting the attention of professional skateboarding around the world. 

Coincidentally, Skateboarding New Zealand was formed mid-2016, just before the official announcement skateboarding would be part of the 2020 games. Made up of many key people within the skateboarding community, Skateboarding New Zealand is the representative voice for skating while looking how we can connect skateboarding with local communities better and introduce pathways for the next generation of skaters. With close to 450,000 active skateboarders nationally each year we feel like this is only the beginning for skateboarding in NewZealand. 

With half of the Mangawhai skatepark completed, remaining plans include an international standard street and flow park section, which, with the announcement of skateboarding at Tokyo 2020 provide a huge opportunity for Mangawhai to set the standard for skatepark facilities and the chance to be an influential part of skateboarding growth and success in New Zealand. 

MAZ is now calling on the wider community for support and funding for the completion of the area with the launch of their crowd funding campaign www.give4maz.co.nz . Not only will the completion of this world-class facility have a significant impact on the local and national skateboarding scene, but it will also bring huge benefits to the local store, motels, camping grounds, restaurants and other businesses. 

n Jesse Peters is president of Skateboarding New Zealand.

BENEFITS: Further development will turn Mangawhai skate park into a world-class facility.  - PHOTO/Mitch Collins 

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