Outdoor spaces specialists: People “hungrier” for outdoor sports like skateboarding during lockdown


By Hilal Erkoca, ISCA

ISCA’s MOVE Transfer Europe-China project is developing individual competencies and organisational networks that will drive sport participation and mutual relations forward between China and the EU. In this article series, we look at the different settings our European and Chinese partners are focusing on locally and across continents to deliver physical activity initiatives. After all partners gathered in-person in Budapest last October, the Covid-19 crisis forced all 2020 exchanges online. But the activities have continued, and the European-Chinese model of online collaboration is unique in grassroots sport.

In this article, we profile the work our partners are doing in the setting “Outdoor Spaces (nature and urban areas) with focus on recreational cycling, running, walking, hiking, urban spaces assisting an active lifestyle”.

Photo: Skateducate

Programme and organiser: Urban activities for youth, Anne Eggebrecht, Skateducate and Skateboardskolen Aarhus, Denmark

Skateducate is an organisation that focuses on getting girls onto skateboards and promotes skateboarding for women. It provides the materials (board and safety equipment) and a teacher to help the ladies to learn how to master the discipline. The teachers organise weekly skateboarding sessions where anyone can participate free of charge.

Aarhus Skateboardskolen is an organisation that helps facilitate the communication between the skateboard community and the municipality, running the indoor facilities, and managing the volunteers in the skateboard community.

As part of the MOVE Transfer Europe-China project, the organisations are aiming to enhance the promotion and unification of urban activities including skateboarding, roller skating, Parkour, and others. Their goal is also to give youth the opportunity to create and have a space to be physically active in an intelligent, organised and conscientious way.

Anne Eggebrecht represents the associations Skateducate and Skateboardskolen Aarhus in Denmark in the MOVE Transfer project.

During lockdown, she worked remotely to deliver online tutorials, small clips of maximum 4 minutes, to show some skateboarding tricks. The associations also prepared a help package during the lockdown, where people could apply to borrow a board, get stickers, a map of all the skate spots and their initiative has been featured as a best practice by DGI in Denmark. In addition to the tangible goodies, they posted online tutorials to help people get started. According to Anne, there was a lot of positive feedback and demand for it. She thinks that people got hungrier to get out and go skating – because skateboarding is an activity that can be done outside.

Now the associations’ activities have restarted, and the staff are still trying to meet the increasing demand for outdoor sports and skateboarding after the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown. After a recent setback with a participant testing positive to the virus in Aarhus in September, Skateducate had to pause its activities but expects to be back soon with activities and further guidelines to keep its participants safe.

Programme and organiser: Urban outdoor activities in Shanghai, Mei Du, Sports Bureau of Xuhui - School of Sports Science and Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology & Sports Bureau of Xuhui, Shanghai

As a scholar at the East China University of Science and Technology & Sports Bureau of Xuhui, Shanghai, Mei Du is working on urban outdoor activities in Shanghai as part of the MOVE Transfer Europe-China project. City-based outdoor sports are developing in China due to the lack of natural parks or national parks in densely populated cities.

Some of the most popular activities are running, orienteering challenges, kite flying, dancing in open spaces, tai chi, rock climbing, cycling, roller skating, dragon boat races, sailing, canoeing, fishing and fitness outdoor training. Most of the running or cycling tracks are made of plastic or concrete and some of the tracks pass through important tourist destinations.

On the other hand, Shanghai has very impressive and different outdoor venues like Dishui lake, Oriental Land, and is working on building more. But, at the same time, it is facing some challenges like transportation (takes too much time to reach the natural places); time (too much pressure on school activities and little importance given to outdoor physical activity), finance (some of the activities are too expensive), coaches (there are no qualification standards or criteria for coaches) and organisers and volunteers (to deliver the events).

The MOVE Transfer partners in Shanghai are the Shanghai sports administration, Shanghai Mountaineering Outdoor Sports association and Shanghai distance running the association, and their responsibility is to administrate, organise, develop and promote the activities. We also have some sports associations, NGOs, sports federations and universities helping with the promotion of the outdoor activities.

Shanghai parks and outdoor facilities are also back to life after months of Covid-19 restrictions. In April, thousands of people took to Shanghai's parks and other public spaces for the first time as the government eased Covid-19 restrictions across the country. Outdoor activities are the most popular activities in Shanghai at this time, so it is a great opportunity to continue the momentum.