In every corner of the world, there is possibility. How that possibility takes shape and moves through its environment is affected by those around it. Skateboarding is but one of many things that could inhabit a new place on the globe. We like to think of it as one of the best. Yet again, skateboarding has found itself in a new place. This time: Pakistan.
The cultural hub of Lahore is a city of eleven million people located in northern Pakistan (Punjab). In February of 2022, a crew of skateboarders with the American NGO, Salad Days of Skateboarding, ventured to Lahore with an impressive amount of skateboards and the goal of distributing them efficiently and fairly. There are no skateshops in Pakistan, so high-quality skateboards are hard to come by. And as excited as the locals were to see these skateboards (and the people riding them), the Salad Days crew was just as excited to experience a brand new place with lovely people and a unique culture.
Especially in the old walled city, Lahore is a dusty ecosystem of motorbikes, salesmen of artisanal goods, sweet chai tea, and paratha with dahl on almost every corner. The streets bustle as quickly as the people talk, some with much enthusiasm and others with the lackadaisical pace of one simply enjoying the day. Women sit side-saddle style on motorbikes weaving through tight alleyways, and people wear their traditional garb, the Shalwar Kameez. It is a sight for the locals to see Americans wearing Adidas and Dickies with skateboards in the street. But it just as impressionable to those American tourists to see the locals try standing on a skateboard for the first time clad in their sandals and tunics.
That visit proved to be fruitful. The Salad Days crew hosted multiple sessions and meet-ups for the local skateboarders to congregate and to introduce skateboarding to newcomers as well. They built a quarterpipe for the locals to enjoy, had meetings with the local officials, and even went on a road trip with some of the Lahori locals. Tour-style, in a 15-passenger van for a bigger skate meet-up in the capital city of Islamabad. The idea for building a skatepark in Lahore (Pakistan’s first) came up during the trip in 2022, and this video was made for people to learn more:
And as fundraising for the Lahori skatepark commenced, planning for a return there began. Fast forward to February of 2023, and the Salad Days of Skateboarding made their return. This time around, the skaters of Lahore were organized as a local NGO called Skate Pakistan, which collaborated with Salad Days and a French NGO which builds concrete skateparks. This third partner, Wonder Around the World, has built many beautiful parks in several parts of the world, like Ghana, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.
The crew was international, the workload was heavy, and the vibes were high. Many things North Americans or Europeans may take for granted are hard to find in Pakistan, so some improvisation was required to pull off the job. But this group of people was the one to do it! The skatepark itself turned out phenomenally! Thanks to Element Skateboards and the people of Salad Days and Wonders, even more boards were brought to Lahore on this visit.
And these boards now had a home! A secure shed was built next to the skatepark for the purpose of keeping skateboards and safety equipment on site, ready to be taken out and loaned to the locals for lessons and sessions by a trusted group of locals with Skate Pakistan. Before heading back west, the Salad Days crew helped to train the skaters who were set to be lesson instructors, and there were many fun sessions at the new gem of a skatepark there in Lahore.
This is just one story of a successful skatepark build. This one will make an entirely new lifestyle available to a new generation of children in the Lahore area. And it is an example of what can happen when passion is used to create something new for others to enjoy. Skateboarding is for sharing. With everyone. The possibility is everywhere, even now in Lahore, Pakistan. Where’s next? Islamabad? Karachi?