15 Photos of Afghan Girls Killing it at Skateboarding, the Biggest Female Sport in the Country

Skateistan empowers Afghani girls and women through skateboarding and education.

What began as a series of casual sessions at a downtown Kabul fountain in 2007, Skateistan has evolved into a chain of empowering parks and classrooms in Afghanistan and Cambodia where boys and girls can get an education in everything from language to nutrition, work as skate instructors, learn how to wall climb and, of course, shred on a skateboard. Girls and young women, in particular, have a lot to gain from the non-profit.

In Afghanistan, President Karzai has stated that women may not travel without a male guardian. Afghan women are forbidden from driving vehicles or participating in the majority of organized sports, and they have a slim chance at an education or career. It is a heavily conservative patriarchy that’s been at the center of conflict for over thirty years where young kids often forgo an education to sell chewing gum on a street corner. At Skateistan, an NGO that introduced Afghan culture to skateboarding, girls play, learn and work freely.

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A Trip to Cambodia Shows How Skateboarding Bridges Cultural Barriers

Professional skater Javier Mendizabal and the Quiksilver by Vuerich B project team traveled to Phnom Penh to meet the Skateistan team.

In early December, professional skater Javier Mendizabal and the Quiksilver by Vuerich B project team traveled to Phnom Penh to meet the Skateistan team and their students. This trip marked the beginning of an exciting new collaboration to release a range of sunglasses made out of recycled skateboard decks to help support Skateistan, a nonprofit that uses skateboarding as a tool for engaging and empowering youth.

As an ambassador of the Quiksilver Foundation, Javier participated in all of Skateistan Cambodia’s day-to-day activities with the students: hosting workshops on the mechanics of a skateboard, providing trick tips to the staff and students, and giving skate demos. Through their shared passion for skateboarding, Javier was able to inspire and motivate the students of Skateistan to push their own skating to new levels.

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From 13-Year Old Skater to 14-Year Old Bride

Through the project "Through My Eyes" we learn about Faranaz, an Afghani skater, and her home life outside of Skateistan.

Since Faranaz began attending classes at the Skateistan skatepark, she progressed to the point where she was welcomed onto the teaching staff as a girls’ instructor in the fall of 2010. She also excelled in advanced art classes. During one semester, the girls painted old skateboard decks, and Faranaz oversaw the completion of a giant wooden butterfly sculpture made out of broken boards. Early on, during her time with Skateistan, Faranaz developed problems with her vision. The team took her to an optometrist, who prescribed glasses and treatment to prevent the on-set of blindness. She had been suffering from an eye infection that afflicts many children in Afghanistan whose families live in over crowded and unhygienic conditions.

In the summer of 2010, Faranaz was chosen to take part in a Skateistan photojournalism project called "Through My Eyes." This gave her a voice, which she used to talk about her past and present home life outside of Skateistan. "Through My Eyes" gives a glimpse into her life as a 13-year-old girl living in Kabul. It is at once a very personal story, and one that contains shadows of the lives of millions of other young women living in Afghanistan. In the summer of 2011, one year after the film project was completed, Faranaz left Kabul permanently, when her family made the move north to a village near Mazar-e-Sharif at the insistence of her older brother. By January, 2012 she was engaged.


Faranaz’s story is shared at greater length in the Skateistan book Skateistan – The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan. This 320-page color book features stunning, previously unpublished photographs accompanied by essays, interviews and personal stories from Skateistan's founder Oliver Percovich and the young Afghans that have gone from being students to teachers in the skatepark and classrooms. Full of hope, beauty, gritty honesty—and skateboards!—this is a story about Afghanistan—and Faranaz—that you won’t find anywhere else.

Add purchasing your own copy of Skateistan – The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan to your To-Do list here. 100 percent of profits go to Skateistan's programming for youth in Afghanistan and Cambodia.

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Two Festivals and an Artist Bailout: Have a GOOD LA Weekend

This week's L.A. picks feature two festivals that will keep rocking well into next week, plus a way to make a lasting impact on local artists.

It's Thursday, Los Angeles! This week's picks stretch far beyond the weekend, with two festivals that will keep rocking well into next week, plus a way to make a lasting impact in L.A.'s creative community. Got something cooking that we should be covering? Email us at la[at]goodinc[dot]com

Catch a Flick at the L.A. Film Festival: The Los Angeles Film Festival kicks off today with 200 indie films, summer blockbusters, and classic movies screening in theaters around the city. Highlights include Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul, which we featured here on GOOD; the world premiere of Richard Linklater's newest film, Bernie, starring Jack Black (above); and a documentary on hip hop legends A Tribe Called Quest. Buy a festival pass and you'll get priority admission to screenings plus access to events like a conversation on fame between Black and Shirley MacLaine. Thursday, June 16 through Sunday, June 26

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