skateboarding

Williams is a skateboarding envoy with the U.S. State Department and is spreading his love for the sport, recently completing a cultural diplomacy mission in Cambodia, where he highlighted skateboarding's benefits to young people.“It’s a bridge between people all over the world,” Williams said. “For me, I’ve always been focused on what it was that made skateboarding special.”

Skateboarder and University of Waikato PhD student Neftalie Williams is in Cambodia this week at the invitation of the United States Embassy. As a US sports envoy, he will be leading a US Department of State Target of Opportunity Sports Diplomacy program, tasked with helping to increase mutual understanding between the people of Cambodia and the USA.

Long before the U.S. and Cuba mended diplomatic relations, skateboarding brought together the two countries. After studying abroad in Cuba in 2010, Miles Jackson and a group of friends started Cuba Skate, a group that supports and promotes skate culture within Cuba. 

President Obama’s initiative to begin normalizing relations with Cuba provides optimum conditions for CubaSkate, a D.C./L.A. based NGO which delivers skateboards to Cuban youth and promotes dialogue between the two countries with blessing from the Cuban government. 

This CPD Photo Essay explores the role of non-state actors, acting both as ambassadors between countries and as ambassadors of sport to both domestic and international audiences. These photographs were taken on a recent trip to São Paulo, Brazil. 

CPD Photo Essay: Skateboarders from the United States and Brazil forge meaningful ties around a half-pipe in São Paulo.

Skateistan is a skating and education project based in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was set up by Oliver Percovich in 2007 and teaches children from all socio-economic backgrounds to skateboard. About 40% of its members are girls – a rarity in a country where until recently, women were banned from participating in sport. Some of the images featured here are from a new book Skateistan: The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan.

Like listening to rock music in the 1960s, interest in such a uniquely American import marked the young skaters as socially suspicious, and sometimes for rough treatment by police and arrest, though their experiences were perhaps not all that different from confrontations between U.S. skaters and civic authorities concerned about the destruction of public property.

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