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In 2007, a local NGO ‘Ba Futuru’ who works with and empowers local youth created a small DIY skatepark in Timor Leste’s capital of Dili. Since then the skateboarding community has grown to around 50 skaters aged 4 – 40. The skatepark which sits next to the NGO’s building and adjoining other active spaces although in heavy use was in dire need of repair and upgrades. Our goal was to bring a brand new, safe and inspiring skatepark for the youth of Timor-Leste, a country on the doorstep of Australia. To assist in 2020 we established a new NGO ‘Timor Skate’, enabling the management of the project during the funding, construction stages and to offer assistance with activation post opening. In collaboration with Ba Futuru (local youth organisation) and the local community.
We held two consultations onsite with the locals, initially in establishing ideas and in turn a design for further feedback and community approval. A space that was designed in collaboration and specific for the space, ensuring integration, points of difference and an array of elements that both encourages new users and also opportunities for progression of the established skaters. With community approval we managed to integrate the story of Timor’s creation a crocodile i.e. there was a crocodile wandering through the ocean carrying a boy on his back who saved his life. As per the boys wish the pair explored the world, trying to find somewhere to stop. Over time, the crocodile got tired and found its resting place offering a home for the boy’s family. That resting place is the island of Timor, with its spine resembling the mountains which define the central plateau. We managed to get that crocodile into the skatepark as a skateable element, to be able to share the story. It’s nice to have that local connection within the park, offering its own Timorese identity for whoever sees it.
As it being a charity project we fund raised over several years and various events with incredible financial support from The Skateroom, Wonders around the World and numerous passionate/generous people from around the world. During this time we have sent over several shipments of donated skate gear, a necessary in a country that doesn’t have a skateshop and often the financial means to buy equipment. Being held up due to travel restrictions we returned to build the park in late 2023 with 4 other passionate volunteers/mates who are professional skatepark builders. . Over 4 weeks 6 of us (Nick, Gilbo, Benno, Louie, Karloz and I) accompanied with local help delivered the park, working long hours, starting early to avoid the heat we managed to finish it off with little time to spare, spurred on with high fives and shared banter from the local kids. As soon as the last concrete was poured the park was a hub of activity whether it was the collection of girls greatly increasing their confidence and skills to the more experienced skaters being able to progress due to the range of elements, whilst offering time for mentoring to the younger users. Collectively already exceeding the number and diversity of the initial skaters in the community. An incredible project to deliver considering the overall time it took (5 years) and the clear benefits that the park will offer this local community. Assisted by Ba Futuru and Jihno a local skater who through grants from the Good Push organisation holds a funded role at the skatepark.
photo credit Wade Trevean