Why Sport Matters for Girls

Tin shows some new students how to push for the first time.

In our most recent newsletter, we featured an interview with Skateistan Cambodia staff member Kov Chansangva (Tin). Tin has been working with Skateistan Cambodia for ten months, and has quickly become an invaluable member of the Skateistan team. Her passion for skateboarding, dance, music, and teaching combined with her can-do attitude and energy make her a fantastic female role model for all the students at Skateistan Cambodia. To our knowledge, Tin was the first Cambodian woman ever to land a kickflip.

While there are numerous barriers to female participation in sport around the world, Tin represents a growing population of female athletes in Cambodia.

Recently we were lucky to speak about the issues surrounding female participation in sport with H.E. Vath Chamroeun, Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia. According to His Excellency, “In the Cambodian tradition, families would not allow their daughters to play sports, but now in modern society women and men have the same right to do anything.” He went on to say that “In Cambodia we can say now that women players in sport federations number around 30 - 40 percent… The first Cambodian gold medal for wrestling came from a female wrestler at the '09 SEA games.”

Skateistan Cambodian consistently reaches a 40% female participation rate, and hopes to see even more girls enrolling over time.

Here’s what Tin had to say in her recent interview:

What is your job? What are your responsibilities?
My job title is Skate and Classroom Instructor. My responsibilities are to register the students and enter them into the database, and to teach skateboarding, breakdancing, and DJing.

What is your favorite trick?
My favorite trick is the kickflip.

Some people think of skateboarding as a sport only for boys. What do you think?
The people who think skateboarding is only for boys are wrong. I think the word sport means that girls and boys can play together.

Why aren’t there more girls involved in sports?
There are many. In the past there were just some girls, not much, involved in sport. And now, there are so many girls involved in sports like skateboarding. In the past they were afraid, they were shy, because they thought they couldn’t do things like boys… But now they see other girls playing and know that they can enjoy sports and play even better than the boys.

Do you think you will still be skateboarding when you are older?
Yes! As long as I can walk, I will skate until I die. When I’m older, skateboarding can give me exercise, help me relax, and make me feel happy.

Do you want to go back to school to study?
Yes. I want to study to be a lawyer, because I want to increase my knowledge. I will keep money so that when I am very old and cannot work, I can find one skill to make me happy in my life.

What do you like to do when you aren’t skating or teaching?
I like to stay at home and help my mother prepare food and wash clothes.

What do you do when you want to learn a new trick?
If I want to learn a new trick, first I ask a person who knows how to do it. Also, I learn by watching videos on Youtube.

What inspires you?
For me, I am inspired when I see other girls who are good at skateboarding!


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A 2012 speech delivered by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri identified sport programs as effective platforms for reducing social isolation, fostering self esteem and empowerment, and providing leadership skills that are central to the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In the words of Lakshmi Puri, ““The potential for sport to contribute to the social, economic and political empowerment of women and girls is clear and has been recognised by governments, the United Nations system, civil society, the sports movement and others. Now is the time to act on this recognition and bring the benefits of sport to women and girls”

Skateistan is proud to be doing just that.

Srey Neurn picking up speed.

Practicing the Cambodian martial art, bokator.

Srey Pich hitting the wallride with style.

Girls from the Cambodian Women's Development Agency learning how to set up a board.

Representing the ladies at Khmarnival 2013 in Sihanoukville.