English | Dzongkha Sunday, February 23, 2020

Skate park, Bhutan’s first, opens in Thimphu

Tshering Dendup, Thimphu
Nov 21, 2018

It was an quite an unusual sight as youths tried out skateboarding alongside professional skaters at the newly built skate park in Bebena, Thimphu, yesterday. Some of the newbies were quite good at it, others first-timers and were cautious in their every move. 

The skate park is Bhutan’s first. It was built by an American family in memory of late son Johnny Strange.

“This skate park was built in honour of my son, Johnny Strange, who first came to Bhutan in 2011 and brought a skateboard with him,” father Brian Strange said.

“Johnny was an adventurer and he loved kids and when Johnny passed away in wind suit flying in 2015, we wanted to built this park for the youth of Bhutan to inspire them, to be outside next to the mountains and away from their video games.”

Johnny’s friend, Tom Schaar, who is professional skater, was also there at the opening of the skate park yesterday. He has come to remember his friend.

“This being a first skate park in Bhutan, it’s really a big deal. Look how many kids are here and they are having a great time,” Tom Schaar said.

“I would just say it’s going to bring a whole new sport for the youth to do and I can’t wait to already come back in the future and see how it’s going to be.”

Kinley Tshering of the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) is the Project Manager.

“This park is a first of its kind in Bhutan. It was constructed with an objective of benefiting the youth of Thimphu with support from Strange family from America,” Kinley Tshering said.

“Since the beginning of the construction, a lot of youth were interested in it and I feel the sport will develop.”

Skateboarding is not new to the Bhutanese youth. Shops has skateboards for sale and children can be seen skateboarding on the roadsides.

However, the sport was not popular because of the lack of a place to skateboard.

“The sport was there in the country for a long time and but it never gained popularity,” Sangay Rinchen, who came to try out skateboarding, said.

“It’s a really good initiative by the Strange family for the youth of Bhutan.”

The skate park was constructed at a cost of US$ 98,000. The Strange family funded it.

Skateboards were provided to over 40 participants at the opening by the Element Skateboards and Vans, two American companies that have skateboarding at its roots.

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