skateboard diplomacy

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.

Skateboarders can often be proudly stupid. We relish in action, not thought. So whenever someone starts talking about how skateboarding can be a passport to connect with people across cultures, or starts going off about the power skating can have for the marginalized, we’re often quick to get defensive and write off such thoughts as self-serious pretention.

The dreamiest dream job is the one that you design for yourself, and by that standard, Neftalie Williams is winning at life. He has made an academic career out of skateboarding. Specialty? Skateboarding diplomacy.  

Ahmad  Al Rayyan, a Syrian refugee who moved to Jordan’s capital city 2.5 years ago, is one of the many skaters who frequent 7Hills [...] The park opened last December, but the idea for it, Mohammed Zakaria, co-founder of 7Hills Skatepark says, was always there [...] Working with Make Life Skate Life, a nonprofit that builds skateparks in developing countries, they used an online campaign to fundraise for the park.

From music diplomacy in the Middle East to sports and culinary exchanges in the Americas.

As US Secretary of State, John Kerry, reopens the American embassy in Havana, Will Grant reports on how skateboards are being used to establish bonds between the old enemies. NGO Cuba Skate is helping to strengthen that bond through skateboard diplomacy. 

U.S.-Cuban Skateboard Diplomacy

American skateboarders from Cuba Skate bridge U.S.-Cuban foreign relations with skateboard diplomacy, empowering Cuban youth and facilitating diplomatic reconciliation between the two nations.

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.