SKATEBOARDING IS A sport not often mentioned in Jamaica, and when it is, it is usually in the context of a pastime rather than a serious undertaking.
Twenty-year-old Yerodin Richards wants to change this perception. He hopes to use his knowledge and love for skateboarding to contribute to a paradigm shift in the approach to the sport.
The former Munro College student had long admired the art of skateboarding, and his admiration grew after he received his first skateboard as a gift. “I got one when I was around age 9. I really liked it, but it broke a couple months later,” he recalled. But even as Richards mourned the loss of his board, he took to playing the popular Tony Hawk Pro-Skater computer game at a friend’s house, which allowed him to build on his skills. He eventually bought his first skateboard when he was 15 years old.
Richards particularly likes the fact that this action sport allows him to perform a “whole lot of different tricks that look like magic”. He has a keen interest in competing professionally, but never had the opportunity to do so. Besides, he said there are very few practice facilities available in Jamaica, and no competitions are held locally. “There has never been any real support for professional skating in Jamaica,” he lamented, adding that finding good places that skateboarders are allowed was challenging.
Richards, however, dreams that one day Jamaica will have a skateboarding team at the Olympics. “My dream is for us to medal 1-2-3 in skateboarding at the Olympics, similar to our record in track and field. I want skateboarding to be accepted and not seen as a US sport because it is a fun and rewarding sport,” he remarked.
In planning for his big break, Richards has joined forces with a group of friends from The UWI and neighbouring educational institutions to form a team which he is hoping will soon go national. They train together, and at least one member, Elishama ‘Shama’ Beckford, has recently broken into the profession. Beckford is a sponsored Jamaican skateboarder, and he is now in the US skating,” Richards told UWIMONA Now.
While this St Elizabeth native looks forward to becoming a professional skateboarder, he recognises that this may take some time and so he has also been working on another career path that he has loved since childhood – computing. He is currently a final year student pursuing a BSc in Computer Science at The UWI, Mona. He hopes to use this degree as a gateway into computer science research. In the short term, he hopes to start a software company and expand it into a fully fledged technology business.
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