Boards against boredom: Libya rolls out first skatepark

AFP

3 min read
Skateboarders show off their skills during the inauguration of a skatepark in Tripoli, Libya, on May 29, 2022.
MAHMUD TURKIA / AFPSkateboarders show off their skills during the inauguration of a skatepark in Tripoli, Libya, on May 29, 2022.

For young Libyan skateboarders, interest in the sport reflects a yearning for normality

Libyan Mohamed Abderraouf put a foot on his board and launched himself across Tripoli's first skatepark, a welcome break in the conflict-battered capital with few facilities for bored young people.

"I can't describe the joy," said the 18-year-old, who bought his first skateboard in 2020 and has been able to practice on street corners – until now. "I'm going to come a couple of times a week."

To the delight of young skaters, the free, open-air facility opened over the weekend in central Tripoli.

Local skaters played a role in the project too, part of a seaside park that also includes a cycling route and five-a-side football pitches.

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The entirety of the complex was completed a year ago on the site of a former base of the "Amazons” – the entourage of female bodyguards of deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and seen as a symbol of the tyrant's extravagance.

Since he was overthrown and killed in a 2011 revolt, Tripoli endured successive waves of violence, meaning few resources were put into leisure and cultural facilities – already almost non-existent under Gaddafi.

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The United States-funded facility was built by Make Life Skate Life, a charity that has also set up "free-of-charge, community-built concrete skateparks" in Iraq, Bolivia, and India.

Australian Wade Trevean, who designed the 800-square-meter Tripoli site, said volunteers came from far and wide to help build it, a process that took about six weeks.

For young Libyan skateboarders, interest in the sport reflects a yearning for normality, to be like other nations and other young people.

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