Why Sheffield centre has skate expectations

HE MAY BE unlikely to be pulling off the perfect ollie any time soon, but the Lord Mayor of Sheffield got to grips with the basics of skateboarding when he became the first person to be taught at the newly-qualified Skateboard School in the city.

Ashley Mercer in action.
Ashley Mercer in action.

The school, which is based at The House skatepark, is the first in the country to have all its teaching staff qualified by the sport’s newly established governing body, Skateboard England.

It is hoped that by offering lessons, it will encourage more young people to get active, and even get schools and youth groups involved.

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Next month the Skateboard School will team up with Sheffield United’s Kicks programme, to offer children who haven’t tried skateboarding before the chance to give it a go at special sessions at the English Institute of Sport and Concord Sports Centre.

Coach and business development manager at the Skateboard School, Nick Mosley, said: “We want to show kids that there is an alternative to traditional team sports like football or rugby.

“Having the qualifications in place means we can now go into schools, it legitimises our role in the same way a qualified football coach is.”

Like many towns and cities across the country, Sheffield has had something of a troubled past with the sport.

In 1998 the council introduced a by-law, which still stands today, banning skateboarding in sections of the city centre. The ban coincided with the opening of a skate park at Devonshire Green, an attempt to move skateboarders away from street furniture into dedicated areas.

Mr Mosley said: “The amazing health benefits of skateboarding have regularly been overlooked and the sport has often been unfairly linked with anti-social behavior.

“Taught in a safe and controlled environment, skateboarding can provide fitness, physical endurance, stress relief and a full body work-out. I’m confident skateboarding will provide a massive boost for the health of the city as it increases in popularity and acceptance.”

The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Talib Hussain, became the first person to be taught at the newly-qualified school on Wednesday, joined by a group of local children.

He said: “I’m very supportive of something that can improve the health and fitness benefits of the city’s young people. Sheffield should be proud of the Skateboard School becoming the first fully qualified organisation of its kind in the UK and it’s great that the sport can now be taught in safe and fun environment.”