Skateboarding ramp reopens

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RADICAL: Chris van der Merwe, far right, of Christian Skaters Africa, with local skateboarders who competed in the ‘Best Trick – PA 2016’ competition
RADICAL: Chris van der Merwe, far right, of Christian Skaters Africa, with local skateboarders who competed in the ‘Best Trick – PA 2016’ competition

THE Port Alfred skateboarding mini ramp re-opened recently, in order to host the Christian Skaters’ “Best Trick – PA 2016” competition. Chris van der Merwe of Christian Skaters Africa (CSA) slotted Port Alfred into the CSA South African tour when he heard the skate facility was functional.

Although notice was short, a quick social media campaign was launched resulting in a great time for all who attended.

Van der Merwe warmed up with the competitors, and towards the end of the session, surprised all present with an amazing, display of rollerblading on the ramp, including full 360 air rotations and kick offs off the wall. He said the Port Alfred ramp is an excellent facility – one of the best in the country.

Although the Port Alfred skaters have not been skating the ramp for a very long time, the competitors were encouraged to land their best trick. Freddie Luffin won by landing his first ever “back side 50/50 stall”, second place went to Harmony Adesola with a kick flip and third place went to Tristan Rudolph with a “tail stall and rock to fakie ”. Stephen Stiekema won the advanced section with a “back side half cab transfer”.

Van der Merwe shared his testimony after the competition, describing how he dedicated his sport to Jesus in 2006 and shortly thereafter became part of the South African Mountain Dew rollerblading team, where he participated in shows at the Dubai X-Games.

“This was very inspiring for the youth in Port Alfred to hear,” said Carol-Ann Stiekema, who manages the Sk8 Factory.

In 2008, Van der Merwe qualified as an international professional rollerblader at the Amateur World Championships in the US. He said that although God is not a genie in a bottle, when you give your life to him he makes a way for you to do the things he has purposed for you in life.

He said he is very grateful for the opportunities God gave him and he really enjoys sharing God with people, through his sport.

Van der Merwe competed at the Asian X-Games from 2008 through to 2013 and ranked in the top 10 twice. His best placement was sixth place. At the Korean World Leisure Games in 2010 he was also awarded 10th place. He continued to travel the world with his sport.

Van der Merwe and his wife Jami live in Somerset West where he runs CSA alongside a non-profit organisation called Inspired2Become – youth development through sport. The organisation aims to uplift and involve underprivileged and over-looked youth and young people in alternative sport. To find out more, check out http://www. inspired2become.org.

The Port Alfred skateboarding mini ramp will be open Mondays 5-6.30pm and Fridays 2-5pm (R30 per session).

Stephen Stiekema is usually on hand to assist skaters in developing their tricks, with the aim of hosting regular competitions, to encourage the youth to participate in this challenging sport.

Local and national businesses are being approached to provide prizes for the development competitions.

“The Sk8 Factory will be run along similar lines to the Sunshine Coast Gymnastics Club – we really believe in providing a ‘safe’ place for young people to train to achieve their personal goals while developing confidence and essential life skills, in a positive environment,” Stiekema said.

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