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Ladies really feel empowered at skate parks in Gaza

Close to the port of Gaza Metropolis, women follow roller-skating and skateboarding at a skate park embellished with graffiti, within the hope of a promising future within the sport and to problem the overall perception that this sport is for boys solely.

Rajab al-Rifi, the 25-year-old coach of the Gaza skate crew, informed Al-Monitor that skating shouldn’t be nicely generally known as a sport within the Gaza Strip. “It was initially solely standard amongst older youth, because it requires focus and plenty of follow,” he stated, including, “The concept of organising a crew of lady skaters got here up in 2019. The crew consists of 12 women, aged 3-12. [The idea] has been a qualitative leap that stopped this sport from being restricted to boys in Gaza.”

Rifi stated lady skaters are being educated each Friday for an hour or two within the morning, when there are few folks round, to “protect their privateness.” They study abilities and guidelines for roller-skating and skateboarding, which helps forestall accidents and on the similar time boosts their confidence.

Rifi famous, “Social customs and traditions forestall many women from working towards this sport, particularly when their households don’t encourage them to follow. Many lady skaters discover it troublesome to acquire curler skates, which aren’t obtainable within the Gaza Strip, besides within the shops that promote used stuff or these imported from Israel.”

He added, “Skating strengthens the muscle tissue, stimulates blood circulation and improves the skaters’ temper and morale. It additionally helps them shed extra pounds.”

Rifi stated there was no authorities curiosity or help for this sport. In response to him, skaters practiced for years on foremost streets and roads, “which posed a menace to their lives.” Lastly a gaggle of skaters — with the assistance of the Italian Middle for Cultural Change — had been capable of open two skate parks: one within the northern a part of Gaza and one other close to the Gaza port.

He stated, “I hope an indoor skate park for ladies [will be realized], which is able to assist them follow freely and privately, and encourage many different girls to join. This may assist this sport for ladies to survive in Gaza, significantly since folks of various ages and of each sexes come to the identical skate park.”

A 40-member Italian delegation from the Italian Middle for Cultural Change mastering varied sports activities, together with skateboarding, snowboarding, circus acts and martial arts, visited the Gaza Strip on Jan. 6, 2020, primarily to deliver pleasure to the kids of Palestine, and to point out solidarity with the besieged residents.

Marah Hassouneh­­, 20, informed Al-Monitor that she began working towards in 2019, on the roads and in parks, in addition to in a park close to the Gaza port, regardless of social conservative traditions that don’t enable women to practice a sport that’s thought of restricted to boys.

Hassouneh, who wears the hijab and lives in al-Shati refugee camp, stated that her household rejected the concept at first as a result of she may get injured, bruised or break a limb earlier than her dad and mom agreed that she may be part of the Gaza skate crew to get the wanted coaching and abilities.

Whereas working towards, she typically notices folks’s shock and hears their criticism of being a veiled lady and working towards this harmful sport.

Hassouneh hopes that this sport will get extra consideration and that the best way society perceives skaters modifications. As well as, she stated there’s a want for brand spanking new skate parks to open in Gaza with a purpose to develop this sport additional and permit athletes to participate in Arab and worldwide competitions. 

Kinda Farwana, 9, informed Al-Monitor that she has been working towards since 2019 and watches YouTube movies on roller-skating and skateboarding to study the strikes and new abilities. She stated that common coaching is required to ensure that the skater to grow to be knowledgeable, along with designated locations to follow with the best tools.

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