Skateistan: Inspiration through sport

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Non-profit organisation Skateistan enables girls from marginalized and displaced families to learn to ride a skate board for free at the largest indoor sports arena in Afghanistan.

In 2012 photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson visited Skateistan’s Kabul location – one of the largest indoor sports facilities in the country – and captured these beautiful and intimate portraits of the girls she met there. Fulford-Dobson went on to win 2nd prize in the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize with Skate Girl, 2014, just one of a series of works she made on location in Kabul.

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Skateistan was created by Australian skate boarder Oliver Percovich, who relocated to Kabul in 2007. He set out to build an indoor skatepark and education facility to help the children he met there. Today, the organization operates schools across the world, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa, employs 60 staff, and reaches 1,200 youths each week.

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As recently as 10 years ago, almost all women were excluded from education systems and institutions in Afghanistan and Skateistan seeks to overcome those deep social barriers. “Coming to Skateistan might be the only chance for some of our students to do a sport, do creative arts, or have a positive education experience,” says Percovich.

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Jessica Fulford-Dobson has recently exhibited this work at the Saatchi Gallery and is releasing an upcoming book ‘Skate Girls of Kabul.’

USP: Skateistan and the powerful images by Jessica Fulford-Dobson illustrate the importance of sport and activities such as skateboarding can be to the lives and freedom of young girls in marginalised communities.