Society

Mamallapuram’s skateboarders to compete at the Nationals

Manikandan, Harish and Sivaraj | Photo Credit: Aine Edwards
Akila Kannadasan 09 December 2021 10:11 IST
Updated: 11 December 2021 10:26 IST

Three boys from the seaside village are all set to participate at the National Level Skateboarding Championship in Dhelpur, Punjab

Imagine mastering the toughest of skating moves and not being able to afford a good pair of shoes, or even a skateboard for that matter. This is a challenge for many of the young fishermen of Mamallapuram who take an interest in the sport. Teenagers B Sivaraj, M Harish, and A Manikandan, all of them Higher Secondary students, are no exception.

Sivaraj, for instance, goes fishing on weekends and had to drop out of school two years ago to support his family. But a scholarship seat awaits him at a city college, all thanks to his skateboarding and surfing abilities. The three boys are set to travel to Dhelpur in Punjab tomorrow to represent Tamil Nadu at the National-level Skateboarding Championship.

“This is important on many levels for the boys,” says Aine Edwards, an Irish national based in Mamallapuram, who put up a crowd-funding campaign to support their expenses for the trip.

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“ If they win, they could get a Government job, go to university, show their parents who did not even want them to take up the sport, become heroes in the village...”

If they win, the boys could get a Government job | Photo Credit: Aine Edwards

That Mamallapuram is home to some of our country’s best surfing and skateboarding talent is no secret. “Boys here pick up the tricks of the sport from travellers who visit from across the world,” says Mukesh Panjanathan, a fisherman-turned surfing instructor, who runs Mumu Surf School at the fishing village. Mukesh has trained several fisher boys, providing them free boards to practice on.

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“Surfing and skateboarding have similar moves,” he points out. “Except that the latter is done on land instead of water.”

He built a skateboarding ramp inside the fisherfolk settlement at Mamallapuram in 2015.

“Surfers practise at the ramp when there are no waves to catch,” he says. The ramp has been a huge help for boys such as Sivaraj. Not that he needs it, though. Give him any surface, and he will glide across on his skateboard. “It is a little rough,” says Sivaraj about the road in his neighbourhood — the first surface he ever skated on. “The board tends to shake,” he admits. But that did not stop him from skating on it day and night.

Mukesh says that this tournament is important to the boys who were “physically and mentally affected by Covid since they could not go fishing”. Says Aine, “Sport can change their destiny. These are the future leaders of Mahabs.”

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