Nepali skaters face government’s indifference and police’s wrath

Six years after the Nepal government officially recognized skateboarding as a sport, there is not a single skate park in Kathmandu. Skaters, meanwhile, are arrested and beaten by the police.

As there is no proper skate park in Kathmandu, Bardewa and other skaters practice in the cemented basketball court of Tribhuvan University. Photo: Nimesh Jang Rai

Prasun Sangroula

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: For a long time, football and cricket have been the dominant sports in Nepal. They are popular everywhere in the country, from hills to the plains and big towns to small ones. The country’s national teams have been improving their performances in these two sports. But these two are not the only sports where Nepal is constantly improving. There are a few more and skateboarding is one of them. But unfortunately, the sport has not drawn the government’s attention.

“Although skateboarding has immense potential in Nepal, the government has not realized that yet,” says Achyut Khanal, president of Nepal Skating and Skateboarding Association.

Nepal’s skateboarding history is not so long. The sport was officially recognized after the establishment of the Association in 2015. But prior to that, different groups from urban areas used to dabble in it. The first Skateboarding tournament in Nepal was held in 2016, with support from INGOs from different countries. Around 50 skaters participated in that competition. Khanal says he managed to manage funds for the tournament through his personal effort.

Even after six years of being officially recognized by the government, there is not a single skate park in Kathmandu. Photo: Nimesh Jang Rai

“The National Sports Council didn’t provide sufficient financial support and I was compelled to put my personal effort into it,” said Khanal. “From the beginning, the government has been indifferent to skateboarding.” 

Despite that, however, Nepal has made notable progress in skateboarding within a short period. Nepal’s skaters have participated in various international competitions such as the Asian Games of 2018, and the Jugaad Skate Competition in India, among others. Nepal bagged the first position in the Jugaad Skate competition. Nepal is also a member of World Skate, the governing body for skateboarding and roller sports. The number of skateboarding enthusiasts is also growing throughout the country: currently, there are 1200 registered skaters in Nepal, including 200 women.

As there is no proper skate park in Kathmandu, Bardewa and other skaters practice in the cemented basketball court of Tribhuvan University. The court is improper, its cemented pavement rough.

The skaters have traveled to many other European nations as well to participate in tournaments. They have also received scholarships from developed countries. Although they could not bring any of the prizes from their Europe tour, their performances were acclaimed by judges and other skaters.

The number of skateboarding enthusiasts is also growing throughout the country: currently, there are 1200 registered skaters in Nepal, including 200 women. Photo: Nimesh Jang Rai

While skateboarding has great potential in Nepal, it has been neglected from the state, laments Khanal. Even after six years of being officially recognized by the government, there is not a single skate park in Kathmandu. The only skate park in the country is located in Pokhara.

“Despite continuous efforts and lobbying, the government has ignored our calls to allocate a budget to build a skate park,” said Khanal. “As the government is indifferent towards our demands, I am personally approaching various skateboarding-related organizations from developed nations, and they are positive about it.”

Khanal adds that people in the concerned bodies do not have proper knowledge of skateboarding and many other sports, due to which they keep avoiding the demands made by sports associations.

Gajendra Bardewa, a national-level skater, echoes Khanal: “The government and the police both do not consider skateboarding as a standard sport. For them, it is something that is played only by tyape types.”

If only there were one proper skate park in Kathmandu, the skateboarding scene would scale even greater heights. Photo: Nimesh Jang Rai

Police have taken Bardewa and his friends into custody several times just because they were skateboarding on the streets. They faced corporeal punishment at the hands of the police just because they were skateboarding on the streets. The police also tried to seize Bardewa’s skateboard, but thankfully, he somehow managed to save it.

As there is no proper skate park in Kathmandu, Bardewa and other skaters practice in the cemented basketball court of Tribhuvan University. The court is improper, its cemented pavement rough. If anyone falls there is a high chance of getting cuts and wounds, Bardewa says, urging associations to put more pressure on the government to build skate parks as soon as possible.

“If only there were one proper skate park in Kathmandu, the skateboarding scene would scale even greater heights,” Gajendra Bardewa. “This country has no shortage of promising skaters but vision and willpower in the administrative levels.”

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