By Nick Hose
Nicky Hayes says skateboarding is a form of self-expression and gives him a feeling of freedom. (ABC News: Nick Hose)
After years in the making the remote Indigenous community of Santa Teresa is about to open its first skate ramp.
Many in the community of Santa Teresa, located about 80 kilometres south of Alice Springs, have gotten behind the project, with a mini-ramp that has taken two years to get built.
Nicky Hayes is the Northern Territory’s only sponsored Indigenous skateboarder and he has spent most of his life travelling the country doing what he loves.
Now he is taking that passion back home to teach the kids.
“Being Indigenous and being a skateboarder, it’s sort of been a long road, but I’m proud to be an Indigenous skateboarder”, said Hayes.
‘It’s about the freedom’
Hayes got his first taste of skateboarding at twelve, when his best friend in primary school loaned him a board. Since then he has been skating as often as he can.
“Skating is a form of self-expression,” he said.
“It’s an individual sport, but it’s also competitive.
“For me, it’s just the freedom of rolling on four wheels,” he said.
Funding has come from Jesuit Social Services and the Aryenhenge Atherton Aboriginal Corporation, which are facilitating partners of the Stronger Communities for Children program.
“I want to pass on my skills that I’ve learnt to the next generation, so they can feel confident and proud”.
Breaking down stereotypes
Hayes also wants to break down negative perceptions associated with skateboarding.
“When I was skating as a kid I couldn’t go twenty meters without being stopped by police,” he said.
“A group of skaters just want to go out, skate, and feel free. We’re not criminals, we’re skaters”.
The new skateboard ramp at Santa Teresa may pave the way for other communities to get skate facilities. (ABC News: Nick Hose)
Bringing skateboarding to the outback has long been a dream of Hayes.
He hopes he can roll out more skate ramps at communities around the country, just as the sport makes its Olympic debut.
“My dream would be to have interstate skaters come out to these communities, and really see where skate boarding’s gone, and how far it stretches”.