October 06, 2015 05:30 UTC


Cambodians Get Lessons in Skateboarding, Life

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A group is using the sport of skateboarding to help at-risk children in CambodiaA group is using the sport of skateboarding to help at-risk children in Cambodia
A group is using the sport of skateboarding to help at-risk children in Cambodia
A group is using the sport of skateboarding to help at-risk children in Cambodia


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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.


Some young Cambodians are learning a new sport -- skateboarding. The country's first skateboard park is located on the grounds of a local charity group at the edge of Phnom Penh, the capital.

Fifteen-year-old Chea Sophanit has been skating for about six months. "When I see the different styles from skateboarding, especially from the best skaters, I just want to be like them," he says.

Sports like Khmer boxing and soccer are wildly popular in Cambodia. But Chea says skating has already become his favorite sport.

The skaters are learning tricks like launching off a jump or half-pipe and flying through the air on their narrow wooden boards.

A nongovernmental organization called Skateistan Cambodia organizes weekly programs at the park. Skateistan started its work in Afghanistan. Rory Burke works with the group which expanded to Cambodia last year.

RORY BURKE: "Yeah, it's definitely not a typical Cambodian pastime. And I think the idea of 'why skateboarding' is that it's not been done before here. We want to use skateboarding as something saying, 'Hey this is new, this is something different.' And that kind of itself becomes a little bit of hook. People see it and they think and they say, ‘Whoa, what is that?’ and they want to get involved."

Skateistan partners with local groups that work with young people. The park is on the grounds of the group known as PSE, where children attend school and learn a trade. There are almost one hundred twenty participants. Many come from troubled lives.
Sean Burke says for some, skateboarding is a chance just to be a kid for a couple of hours a week. He says he hopes the program will help them build life skills through sport.

Seventeen-year-old Sang Rotha is a student at PSE. "Sometimes I don't do well on topics like math," he says. "I feel bad when I find it hard to keep up with my lessons. So that's why I skateboard, to improve my bad feelings."

He says he began skateboarding more than a year ago. Before he started training, it seemed very easy. But it was very difficult to learn tricks, and he got hurt a lot from falling off.

Rory Burke says learning to deal with the difficulties is part of the lesson for these young skateboarders.

RORY BURKE: "You know, it’s pretty daunting to get on a skateboard for the first time. And then when they drop in for the first time and ride some of the ramps, it's pretty scary. It kind of teaches them, 'Hey, you’re going to fall down a bunch, but you’ve got to get back up.'"

Skateistan Cambodia plans to open the country’s first public skate park later this year in Phnom Penh.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, online at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Fritzi Bodenheimer. 
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: miki from: Japan
07/16/2012 1:09 AM
We can't learn all with just sitting and writing down on class. We have less active chance on Japanese classes. I guess almost all classes are passive. Don't be afraid of injuring or getting injure too much. We may be able to learn something important from using not only our brains but bodies.

by: rena
07/08/2012 1:52 PM
It is very good to play sports. I like sports. But I am not good at sports. I think it difficult to skateboard. I played Kyudo for three years. I can learn a lot of thing from Kyudo. So, sports give us many special things.

by: Chizimi from: Japan
07/07/2012 5:32 AM
I agree with this article that he says he hopes the program will help them build life skills through sport. I have been playing badminton since I was ten years old. I gained spiritual power through sport. It is important for people to do sport.

by: Jean
07/06/2012 8:33 PM
Skateboarding is really daunting. It is one of the sports I will never try especially I'm not young anymore. Hahaha! It might take me months to recover from falling off. I think it's scaring for parents too that their kids say they want to learn skateboarding.

by: Ashkan from: Iran
07/05/2012 6:25 PM
Putting this sport article in Education Report section is interesting for me. Trying to learn skills of life (specially hope and hard trying) from sport is so interesting.
In Tehran (the capital), young people skates a lot but playing street basketball and soccer in more popular than this

by: Kouman from: Ivory Coast
07/05/2012 4:37 PM
It'll be great to have such a program here in our country. That's what we need, we African children

by: Kyoka from: Japan
07/05/2012 11:08 AM
I think sports have a special power. For example, if I play sports, I can get vigor. When I read this article, I was convinced that sports have a special power. So, I want many people to play sports. And, I want to tell about importance of sports my friends, my parents. I think that I want to take up tennis.

In Response

by: alex from: VN
07/09/2012 2:58 PM
this sport is so interesting but maybe i never play it because in my country it is really not popular and i have no condition to play it

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