• Chishimba Bwalya

Skateboarding, a sport growing rapidly in Zambia

Updated: Feb 17


Skateboarding is a sport relatively new to Zambia, although there have been traces of young people skating around the streets in the last few years, especially in Lusaka.


Despite being hardly known locally, Skateboarding Association of Zambia (SAZ) are not letting that stand in their way of ensuring that the sport achieves growth in the country.


Currently in their fourth year of establishment since 2018, SAZ has seen the sport grow rapidly from being seen as a luxury afternoon-roadside activity for teenagers to a professional discipline with over 1,000 skaters countrywide.


Part of that rapid growth has been assisted by support from both government through National Sports Council of Zambia and the International Olympic Committee who recognised the sport both locally and globally back in 2018.


The association has also received support from National Olympic Committee of Zambia who have been conducting training workshops in the last two years to help structure the organisation’s administration.


“We have done a lot with NSCZ, they have helped us with anti-doping training and this is important for teenagers and the sport. NOCZ have done training programmes to structure us.


“The executive has done a lot of work. We just finished all our registration locally and Africa Skateboarding and we are just about to get recognised with the global boarding,” SAZ president Elijah Zgambo told NOCZ Media in an interview recently.

Zgambo

With the fast growth of the sport in Zambia, Zgambo is also optimistic that Skateboarding could be an even bigger discipline in the next few years.


However there have been challenges too even as the sport is getting known amongst young people, mostly. One of the challenges has been around procuring equipment used for the sport like the boards.


“We don’t have stores in stores in Zambia where to purchase equipment, individuals have to go online and only the privileged few have access.


“When we go out to practice its only a few that have skateboards even though the interest is overwhelming,” Zgambo says.


Part of this challenge around equipment has also been necessitated by coronavirus which has led to reduced importations and also lack of facilities.


There has been support from international organisations and government too to deal with some of these challenges.


While government through NSCZ has given SAZ training space at National Sports Development Centre (NASDEC) and some other space to develop a staking park, Skateboards of Hope, a Canadian organisation also recently donated 60 skating boards with shipping set to be offered by German shipping company DHL.

“I am extremely hopeful that the sport will grow. This is my 15th year of skating, in 2005 we were 20 and we have now grown,” - Zgambo

In terms of facilities, Newline Skatepark, another organisation from Canada has also pledged to support the local sport in building the skate park at NASDEC.


Skateworld of Denmark and Wonders Around the World have also pledged to support the development of a similar stake-park in Mongu to help create enough facilities and interest for the staking in Zambia.


“We are still looking for as many partners as possible, we are also about to get into fundraising. These skate-parks will be free for use and we want every Zambian to participate in the establishment,” Zgambo explains.


Currently, the executive is made up of 10 people who are mostly athletes of the sport with the exception of the vice-Secretary Juliet Lwenje who is in the civil service.


“I am extremely hopeful that the sport will grow. This is my 15th year of skating, in 2005 we were 20 and we have now grown,” he adds.


On the global scene, skateboarding will make its debut this year at the Tokyo Olympics since the sport was recognised by IOC in 2017.


For Zgambo, this development is a sign of achievements to come for Zambia and he is confident that the country can have its first team to compete at the Olympics in Paris, 2024.


“We are targeting being there, this is what helped us (to get recognised), once the announcement was made we were motivated. Government said yes and helped us”.


Locally, SAZ held the Stake Vibes competition in 2018 while one of the athletes David Namakando also took part in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Speed Championship in Luanda, Angola where he came out fifth.

Charles Lungu scooped first place at the Skate Vibes competition.