The Skate Runner

Riding away from daily life

Roughly 10 years ago, a low-profile, unusual and incredibly visionary initiative was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Every day at five in the afternoon, a group of children would gather in a downtown street and wait for “Mister Olly”. When his van arrived, they greeted him joyfully: their daily skateboard lesson was about to begin.

Mister Olly, his real name is Oliver Percovich, born in Australia and ended up in Afghanistan by chance – would unload a dozen skateboards which the children eagerly grabbed. Astonished passers-by stopped to watch this sport, totally unknown to them.

In the next decade, Skateistan, the open-air skate school founded by Percovich for fun, would become a roaring success, with the whole city talking about it. It would also show its tremendous social role, helping to keep children away from a destiny of beggary on the capital’s streets (or at least giving them a few hours of fun and oblivion) and attracting interest and significant investments from abroad.

So much so that a documentary about Skateistan has just been awarded the Oscar. These pictures show what the open-air skate school looked like in its very first months, when the first courageous kids began attending it on the street.