Skateboarding is not usually listed as a school sport alongside traditional activities like basketball, soccer and hockey.
But that has all changed due to the tenacity of Debbie Qayum, owner of Sidestep Skateboarding School and co-ordinator for the skateboard teams within School District 62.
Qayum spearheaded the project and brought the proposal for school skateboard teams to the school board office in Langford in September.
After receiving the go-ahead, Qayum worked hard to materialize the new school sport in a year where extracurricular activities have been stunted by ongoing job action.
“With the job action, it’s made it really, really difficult to try and form these teams, but I’ve kind of looked outside the box and made it happen,” Qayum said in an interview on May 17.
Qayum did whatever she could to make it work, requesting help from school administrators, youth liaisons and counsellors and incorporating already existing programs like Journey middle school’s exploratory course.
The season kicked off around the beginning of April, with most teams practicing regularly for about an hour each week.
The purpose of adding skateboarding to school teams was to change an individual sport into something that rallies school spirit.
“Basically what I’m trying to do is get some camaraderie within the teams,” Qayum said, adding selecting team names, forming chants and identifying a signature trick are all things she’d like to see manifest within the skateboard teams.
The skateboard teams also give kids who don’t enjoy traditional sports an opportunity to experience the fellowship and pride associated with school sports.
But the formulation of school skateboard teams is only the beginning.
Qayum hopes that one day, skateboarding will become an Olympic sport, so that gifted skateboarders can excel into broader horizons.
“Eventually, that’s my goal. I would like to see it in the Olympics,” she said. “Some of these kids are really good and they can work their way up, and it gives them an opportunity to do a sport that they enjoy and know it can go further.”
Eight skateboard teams from schools within Sooke and the West Shore area will be winding up the season with a competition on June 30 at the West Shore Skate Park.
In order to participate, kids must sign up by 10:30 a.m. and waiver forms with parental signatures are required.
The eight teams include Journey middle school, Edward Milne community school, Belmont secondary, Pacific secondary school, both Colwood and Langford West Shore Centre for Learning & Training, Dunsmuir middle school and Sidestep.