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Skate park for Phnom Penh up for grabs

By: Bronwyn Sloan Posted: January-01-2006 in
Tony Hawk and Brett Angel - Photo Anthony Galloway
Bronwyn Sloan

Cambodia hosted two sporting greats for a few days this week. One, Sir Bobby Charlton, captured most of the attention, but skateboard legend Tony Hawk was not just along for the ride.

At 70, Sir Bobby belied his age and taught kids for Phnom Penh to Battambang the finer points of football during his three-day visit. Not only that, but both men risked life and limb (and what brave insurer would put a collective value on that calibre of limb?) touring mined countryside to promote land mine awareness and the scale of Cambodia's problem with the deadly tools of war to the rest of the world.

Sir Bobby told journalists he was out walking with fellow Laureus Sport for Good ambassador Tony Hawk in Battambang when he spotted two land mines. "If we hadn't seen them (the next victim) could have been a cow, a dog, a human being, a child. It is really, really important we disarm these mines. It is so, so important," he said.

Charlton made a passionate plea for big business and industry to find a way to speed up what is currently a dangerous and tedious process of detection. "Nobody can tell me there are not enough techniques and not enough technology to improve (the process)," he said. Up to 6 million landmines and unexploded ordinance still litter Cambodia maiming and killing the people after 30 years of war and bombing.

"I am proud we came to Cambodia. It opened my eyes," Charlton said. Hawk, who is recognized as the man who made skateboarding legit and is probably the greatest proponent of the sport ever joked that he had never seen anyone jump from a car and engage kids in football training within moments like Sir Bobby in Cambodia. But Charlton understands kids and football. He was signed by English football team Manchester United in 1953 at the tender age of 17 and made 752 starting appearances for the club. As one of the 'Busby Babes' to survive the Munich Air Disaster, he became a star in some of the greatest Manchester United sides in history, playing alongside the likes of Denis Law and George Best.

His glittering international career was crowned by England's 1966 World Cup win and his being awarded European Footballer of the Year. Altogether, Sir Bobby scored 49 goals for England during 106 caps and his thundering strikes on goal remain unparalleled But Hawk is passionate about his sport, too. During an exclusive interview which CTN graciously allowed EAS to sit in on, Hawk described the feeling of achieving stunts never before performed on a skateboard and sent a message to Cambodian kids that he would be there to help them achieve dreams of their own skate park if they showed they had the motivation to get a proposal off the ground.

"I have a charity foundation in the US called Tony Hawk Foundation and basically we are trying to help build free public skate facilities in low-income areas and to date we've helped start about 300 skate parks," Tony told CTN. "We're trying ... to give these kids somewhere to go, somewhere to play that's safe and that's a designated area.

"We try to help communities that have already taken it up on themselves to get a skate park going. So, if there is a community in Phnom Penh that is trying to get a skate park going, petitioning the city, raising funds, we'll help if we can." As inspiration, Hawk described the feeling of being the first skate boarder to land a 900-a trick in which the skateboard rider turns through 900 degrees, or two and a half turns, in the air.

"When I finally landed a 900 it was something I had been chasing for ten years and at times given up on it. I'd never set out to do a trick and failed for so long, for me it was just a big relief and I was glad I did it and I didn't care if I would never do it again, I was just glad to get that one under my belt. I've done it again a few times since then and it's still very difficult," he grinned.

When he started out, Hawk said, skating was considered an underground activity, but now it is firmly established as a sport. "Basically, skating was considered ... more like a toy, and parents were not encouraging their kids to do it. They thought it was rebellious, they thought it was for outcasts, so there wasn't much opportunity," he said. "If you started skating in the late 70s, it was thought that you couldn't make a career out of it, and once you got to a responsible age you had to hang it up and get a real job. I was fortunate that I became successful at an early age and it wasn't like I needed to get a job. "I was fourteen when I turned professional, so it wasn't like I was trying t make a career out of it at that time. But the sport kept growing and I rode the wave and I'm still doing it professionally, so I'm proud of it." Hawk showed local street kids the thrill of skating in an impromptu performance outside the Royal Palace, taking kids along for the ride.

"The perception of skating has changed a lot over the years and to be asked to be a member of the Laureus Academy is proof that it has become legitimate," he said. Laureus is a group of dozens of the world's top athletes, past and present, who use their status as sports stars to help promote good causes for young people around the world. And then Hawk and Sir Bobby left to get ready to fly to China. But they left behind some happy kids, and more than a few dreams to think about and aspire to.

user avatar heanferain (not verified)

Ha, Skate park for Phnom Penh

Ha, Skate park for Phnom Penh up for grabs is really a sound allocation and provided information will surely be appreciate by all the skaters. Thanks
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